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PhDs & Postdocs: Collective Cognition In Social Insects, Weizmann Institute, Israel

5/14/2019 3:42:04 PM

Ofer Feinerman's Lab, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, is currently looking to hire PhD students and postdocs to work in their group.

The aim of this project is to gain a deeper understanding of the concept of collective cognition in social insects. We approach this question by studying cooperative transport by groups of ants, a setting which allows us to compare the navigational problem solving capabilities of groups of different sizes down to single ants. High level tracking,  data analysis, and theoretical considerations are employed to draw out the connections between these organizational scales.

The project will be performed in the Feinerman Social Insect Behavior group which is part of the Department of Physics of Complex Systems in the Weizmann INstitute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. The lab is composed of people with shared interests and highly variable backgrounds: physics, neuroscience, biology, math, and chemistry.

If you are interested in joining our team, it would be beneficial to have expertise in one or more of the following.

Behavioral observation

Animal cognition

Coding and Image Analysis

Analytical capabilities such as statistical mechanics, algorithmics, and information theory.

If interested, please send an email of interest (as a single pdf file including a letter of motivation, a short summary of research interests, a CV, and contacts of two potential referees) to

2/13/2014 Kim Gudeman, CSL

Sensors in your smart phone can pinpoint your location, measure the pollution in the community in which you live, and gauge the quality of local drinking water. Soon, they may also provide researchers with deep insights into the behavior of individuals, communities, and nations.

ECE Associate Professor Romit Roy Choudhury, who is affiliated with CSL and an expert in wireless networks and mobile computing, is treating smartphones and wearable devices such as glasses and watches, as "information microscopes."

Romit  Roy Choudhury
Romit Roy Choudhury
By taking advantage of the massive sensed data from these devices, and aggregated over time and space, researchers can begin to analyze patterns in individuals, communities, and larger group behavior.

“With all the sensors on your mobile phone and wearable devices, it’s no longer just a communications device,” Roy Choudhury said. “It’s giving us all sorts of useful information about an individual’s behavior, and combined with information from other users, we can start to gain wonderful insights about behavior of large communities and the context in which it’s occurring.”

The information could be used for a variety of applications, from making predictions on terrorist attacks to helping movie producers who want to know what parts of a film their audiences find most compelling. It would be possible, Roy Choudhury says, to sense a movie watcher’s reactions, such as laughter or crying, intense attention, or boredom, from sensors in a tablet and program the system to automatically rate the film based on those reactions.

The work leverages Roy Choudhury’s expertise in mobile computing, which has garnered a lot of notice lately. Recently, he received a Google Faculty Research Award to design a Google Glass application that identifies humans based on their soft visual fingerprints, such as clothing colors and motion patterns. Unlike facial recognition technology, a permanent biometric, this app allows identification without creating a permanent profile, while also allowing the user to deactivate these profiles whenever they wish to.

He is also interested in developing various forms of localization technology, including indoor localization, energy-efficient localization, object localization, and human localization. He plans to build on his mobile computing research by developing an app that enables a user to image a building using a camera phone and retrieve location information about the building on her phone.

Roy Choudhury also works in the area of wireless networking, designing algorithms, protocols, and systems at the boundary of MAC and physical layers of the network stack. He has worked on techniques such as interference cancellation, enabling the ability for a radio to transmit and receive at the same time. He has also used this capability to build protocols, ultimately improving the user's perceived performance, say with YouTube videos.

His work on distributed resource sharing has received attention and awards -- with his students, he showed that fairly sharing a resource can be performed in much less time if the operation is moved to the frequency domain. His current work is focused on bringing robotic capabilities to wireless networking and infrastructure.

While Roy Choudhury spent the last seven years at Duke University, where he was a tenured associate professor, joining the faculty at Illinois last fall was a return home. He holds a M.S. degree from ECE and Ph.D. in computer science from Illinois, studying under doctoral adviser Nitin Vaidya, a CSL professor. The rich multidisciplinary experience he enjoyed as a student was a big factor in his return as a faculty member.

“This is a top-ranked department in the nation and the world,” he said. “Illinois has both the breadth and depth to do really exciting work in interdisciplinary areas. This is a place where I can talk to several others on any idea and vision that comes to mind. That is truly awesome."

Roy Choudhury is seeking talented undergraduate and graduate students. For more information about his research, please visit his website.