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Adrian de Froment

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I am a second year PhD student in Simon Levin's lab in the department of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton. I am studying baboon social networks, trying to link across scales from the decisions and strategies of individual baboons, to the social networks within groups and how they change over time, with resource availability and with group size, and then to group fission and the group size distribution in the population. I am also studying the spread of social norms in human populations, using empirical work to inform, constrain and test models of norm spread.


1. What topics do you have some expertise in and would you be willing to help others learn them?

Animal behaviour, population ecology, and evolutionary biology. I also have some experience in network modeling and analysis.


2. What do you want to learn?

I would like to learn modeling techniques to relate the behavioural strategies of entities at one scale (eg individual animals) to the dynamics of the entities at higher scales (eg the structure of animal groups and of populations), especially where 1. Emergent properties of the collective affect the subsequent behaviour of the individual components and 2. The strategies of individuals may be under natural selection based on the properties they result in at the group level.


3. Do you have any projects that would benefit from interdisciplinary approach?

I would like to understand the mechanisms which generate social structure and group size distributions in baboons. The social structure is affected by birth and death processes (and hence the number of individuals in the group), by the way individual relationships are formed and then cultivated or neglected, and by how much time the animals allocate to socializing. Group fission, the splitting of this social structure into two subcomponents, is the mechanism responsible for generating the group size distribution we see in baboon populations in the wild. This is an adaptive trait (affecting the intensity of intra-group competition for resources), and so relating organisation at this scale back to that of individual baboons' social strategies would be exciting from a levels-of-selection point of view.

I am also studying the spread of social norms, combining empirical work and individual-based models.


4. Do you have any ideas for what sort of project you would like to attack this summer?

Anything to do with network evolution, the links between dynamics at different scales, or questions of levels of selection.


5. What's your favorite "big problem"?

The interaction of culture and consciousness.


6. If you were given the opportunity to see where we were in one hundred years with respect to progress on one problem/subject, what would it be?

To see if a science of human collective behaviour (and history) exists - and whether people understand the evolution and dynamics of culture and of collective human intelligence.