SENSING AND CONTROL: Bio-Cellular Sensing
Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences
Assistant Professor Simon Garnier, Federated Department of Biological Sciences, was previously a lecturer and post-doctoral research fellow in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) at Princeton University. He has published widely on research in fields that include ethology, experimental psychology, cognitive and social sciences and swarm intelligence.
Garnier is interested mainly in the emergence of intelligent collective behaviors in groups of social animals. His work is dedicated in part to the observation, description and modeling of the self-organized processes leading to consensus decision making in social insect colonies and schools of fish. He also studies phenomena related to traffic organization in ants and human beings. Additionally, he applies the principles underlying self-organization in social animals to the coordination of swarm robotics.
Garnier’s work relies on a strong experimental foundation. He makes extensive use of innovative computer vision techniques in the laboratory and field to collect large datasets that support the design of data-driven models. He believes that theoretical and experimental work should proceed together and emulate each other as much as possible. This approach has proven to be very efficient when applied to the study of collective animal behaviors.
Complementing Garnier’s research is his commitment to teaching. He taught comparative physiology to undergraduates at Princeton and had a wide range of instructional responsibilities at the University of Toulouse, where he earned his PhD in ethology — the study of animal behavior that combines laboratory and field science with a strong relation to disciplines such as neuroanatomy, ecology and evolution.
At the University of Toulouse, Garnier taught seminars and practical laboratory courses, and lectured in animal behavior, behavioral ecology, social psychology, experimental methodology, statistics and modeling. Recently, one of his students at Princeton was awarded a prize for the best field-based thesis by the EEB department.
Garnier also engages regularly in activities that aim to increase interest in science outside of the higher-education community. These activities include participation in the annual national French science festival La Fête de la Science,” speaking to pre-college students considering careers in science, and judging science fairs.
In addition to his PhD, Garnier has a post-graduate Diplôme D’études Approfondies degree in neuroscience, behavior and cognition, and a master’s in behavior and neuroscience from the University of Toulouse. He earned a bachelor’s in biochemistry, cellular biology and physiology from the University of Bordeaux.