Allison Shaw

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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.