Matina Donaldson

From Santa Fe Institute Events Wiki


I am a fourth-year graduate student at the University of Washington in Seattle, but am currently spending much of my time at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. I got my bachelor's degree in mathematics at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and then spent six years programming for dot-coms before restlessness led me back into academics. Now I am focusing on using game theory and information theory to create qualitative models of the evolution of learning and behavior. I am particularly interested in understanding how organisms evolve to collect information about a changing environment; why they might begin to signal to each other about such an environment; and how learning evolves and in turn affects the course of further evolution. For more information see my web page.

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

Information theory, evolutionary game theory, group selection.

2. What do you want to learn?

Network dynamics?

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

In some sense everything I do is interdisciplinary (math/bio.)

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

The next thing I'll be doing in the course of my thesis is exploring the conditions that would lead animals to begin sharing information, if they receive only partial information about the environment they collectively encounter. But I'd certainly be open to jointly exploring other projects -- I can work on my thesis when I get home, after all. But I guess I'd probably be most interested in something that has to do with the evolution of social behavior.

5. What's your favorite big problem?

How did human language evolve, and how has having language changed human evolution?

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?

See above.