Allison Shaw

From Santa Fe Institute Events Wiki

Radiotracking red crabs during their migration, at my fieldsite on Christmas Island.
Red crabs crossing the road during their migration.

Projects during CSSS09:

I'm a second year PhD student in the Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Department at Princeton University, where I work with Simon Levin and Iain Couzin.

My thesis research centers around the question of why organisms migrate, but touches on a variety of related questions, including:

  • How do organisms trade off movement in space (e.g. migration) and in time (e.g. dormancy)?
  • Why and how do organisms synchronize their behavior?
  • How do organisms balance different types of information (e.g. personal, social, genetic) when making decisions?
  • How are groups formed and to what extent to individual retain their identity within a group?
  • How does individual variation result in different behavioral strategies being used?

I use a combination of modeling, simulations and fieldwork in my research.

I have an ScB in Applied Mathematics--Biology so my background is a mix of biology and math. I've taken courses in the potentially relevant areas of Chaos & Nonlinear Dynamics, and Information Theory, and do most of my modeling in MATLAB.

At CSSS, I hope to gain new perspectives on, and learn new tools for, understanding complexity. Also, to meet people and make new connections.

In terms of a possible project, I'm biased towards any relating to the above questions, but am of course open to any exciting ideas!

I look forward to meeting all of you! In the meantime, feel free to email me (akshaw at or check out my webpage.