People

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Erol Akcay

Born and raised in Turkey, Erol completed his undergraduate degree at Middle East Technical University in Ankara, majoring in physics and biology. He moved to the US to pursue his Ph.D. in Biology at Stanford, working with Joan Roughgarden on models of mutualism and reproductive social behavior. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, (very briefly) at Berkeley with Ellen Simms, and at Princeton with Simon Levin. Starting January 2014, he is an assistant professor of biology at the University of Pennsylvania. Click here for Erol’s CV. He is sporadically accused of harassing songbirds in the wild, but maintains that it’s not him.

Elliot Aguilar

Elliot is a postdoc studying gene-culture coevolution and cultural evolution. He received his bachelor’s degree in Physics from Harvard University and his PhD in Biology from the City University of New York. His interests include the interaction between selection on cultural and genetic traits, evolutionary linguistics, and population genetics.

Version 2 Madeleine Andrews

Madeleine is a senior at Penn studying Biology with a concentration in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. She is interested in the evolution of social competence in animal populations. Madeleine has spent time in both Argentina and Puerto Rico doing field research with primates in addition to working with both domestic and exotic animals in the Pennsylvania area. She is passionate about both conservation and animal welfare and is interested in the application of animal behavior research to each of these fields.

AlexandraBrownAlexandra Brown

Alexandra is a fifth-year student in the Biology Department. She has her undergraduate degree in Math and Biology from Brown university and interested in mathematical biology in general, especially evolutionary theory. Currently, she is working on evolution of mutualistic symbioses.

chaicrop Chai Molina

Chai is a postdoc researching international environmental agreements (IEAs), in collaboration with Ulf Dieckmann (IIASA), Elena Rovenskaya (IIASA), and Simon Levin (Princeton). He studies how differences between countries affect the coalitions forming in IEAs and the gains they can achieve. Chai has a PhD in mathematics McMaster University, MSc from Tel Aviv University, and a BA from the Technion.

BryceCropBryce Morsky

Bryce is a postdoc studying collective identity by modelling social norms and signalling. At the University of Guelph, he researched vaccination games on networks for his MSc, and purifying/truncation selection and group formation for his PhD under Chris Bauch. Following his time at Guelph, he was a postdoc at the University of Notre Dame under Derviş Can Vural researching ecological public goods games and control of antibiotic resistance.

jimmyCrop Jimmy Qian

Jimmy is an undergraduate in the Vagelos Scholars Program in the Molecular Life Sciences majoring in Biophysics and Biochemistry. He is studying cancer evolution using perspectives from population dynamics and ecology.

MarcoCropMarco Smolla

Marco is a postdoc studying the co-evolution of culture and population structure in different environments. He is interested in a variety of social behaviours and studied social insects in Germany as an undergraduate (University of Würzburg, and University of Konstanz). At the University of Manchester, he studied the effect of competition on the utility of social learning as part of his PhD. His work focussed on the density dependence of individual and social learning and how it affects learning efficiency on the population-level and learning decisions on the individual-level. Additionally, to computational models, he used bumblebee experiments as an empirical test for model predictions.

TilmanCropAndrew Tilman

Andrew Tilman is a postdoc studying public goods under risk and environmental feedbacks from a game theoretic perspective with Erol Akçay and Josh Plotkin. He received his bachelor’s degree in Math at Gustavus Adolphus College and his Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University, where he was advised by Simon Levin. His Ph.D. work focused on common-pool resource management at the interface of ecological and economic systems. Broadly, he is interested in how environmental and social feedbacks shape behavior in public goods games.

HaoranCroppedHaoran Zhou

Haoran is a fifth-year graduate student in the Biology Department, working with Brent Helliker and Erol. She has her bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources from Beijing Normal University with highest distinction and her master’s from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Ecology. She is interested in plant physiology and theoretical ecology. She wants to use life history evolution and evolutionary stable strategy to explain change and variation of plant functional traits and life history traits.

Former members:

SlimaneSlimane Dridi

Slimane was a postdoc in the lab in 2015-2017, studying the evolution of behavioral mechanisms and learning in social contexts. Before Penn, he studied Psychology and Cognitive Sciences as an undergraduate in France (University of Grenoble) and obtained a PhD in evolutionary biology from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. He uses analytical models (both deterministic and stochastic) as well as agent-based computer simulations to address questions about how natural selection shapes the use of information and cognitive sophistication in game theoretical settings. He is currently an IAST Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study Toulouse.

AmiyaalSmallAmiyaal Ilany

Amiyaal was a postdoc in 2015-2016 in the lab, and studies social behavior and animal communication patterns. Prior to Penn, he obtained his PhD from Tel Aviv University, and was a postdoctoral fellow at NIMBioS. His work combines field work, analysis of large data sets, and modeling to gain insights on key social phenomena, such as social network dynamics. He just recently started his own lab as a senior lecturer at Bar-Ilan University, Israel and thus became the first survivor of the lab.

2François Bienvenu

François is studying ecology and evolution at École normale supérieure, in Paris. His main interests range from collective behaviour to the evolution of the structure of ecosystems, but right now he is more focused on the evolution of social behaviour. He spent half a year in the Akçay lab in 2014 working on the coevolution of social and demographic traits.

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