Elizabeth A. Hobson            

Contact Information
ehobson AT nimbios DOT org

Postdoctoral Fellow
National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS)
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN USA

Summary of research interests & projects

I am a biologist who specializes in investigating questions about behavioral ecology, especially those that increase our understanding of animal social interactions. I use a combination of observational, experimental, computational and theoretical techniques to determine how the behavior of individuals leads to the formation of group-level social structures.

Research Interests

Evolution of social structure and complex sociality, social network analysis, temporal dynamics of network structure, dominance hierarchies, social learning, fission-fusion dynamics.

Current & upcoming projects
I am a Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) at the University of Tennessee where I am developing methods to define, quantify, and compare aspects of social complexity across a wide range of species.

My Ph.D. research focused on sociality in a small parrot species (the monk parakeet). I expanded on several aspects of my dissertation work during a short-term postdoc position with Simon DeDeo (Indiana University & Santa Fe Institute). We investigated how individual actions such as aggression contribute to the formation of emergent global social properties such as rank in a dominance hierarchy. Now at NIMBioS, I am adapting these methods to detect the level of social knowledge in many different species in order to link social interaction patterns with group social complexity.

Please visit this page for more information on my research projects.
 News & Updates

May 2015
  • Summer conference season is starting soon! I will be presenting a workshop and symposium talk at the Animal Behavior Conference in Anchorage in June, visiting the Santa Fe Institute in June/July, and presenting a research talk and an early professionals research overview at the American Ornithologists' Union / Cooper Ornithological Society Conference in Oklahoma in July.  
    • ABS workshop talk "Temporal dynamics of social interactions: detecting and visualizing time-dependent behaviors within social networks" (part of the "It’s about time: Understanding temporal variation in animal behavior" workshop): June 10th, Gorsuch Commons room 106. Contact the organizer Andy Dossman if you would like to attend [link].
    • ABS symposium talk "Temporal dynamics of aggressive target choice provide insight into social cognition" (part of the "It's about time" symposium): June 13th, Lucy Cuddy Hall, 3:00pm
    • AOU/COS research talk "Social feedback and the emergence of rank in avian society": date/time TBA 
    • AOU/COS mini-talk symposium  "Behavioral interactions in parrots provide insight into social and cognitive skills": July 30, OU Student Union, 4:00-5:00pm
April 2015
  • I wrote up a guide to Manuscript revision hacks: How to automate some of the annoying parts of writing a response to reviews letter to the editor (automated line referencing and updatable block quoting in LaTeX).
  • I will be presenting some of my recent research on the timing of aggression in parakeet groups at the Animal Behavior Society Conference this summer as part of a workshop and symposium called "It's about time: Understanding temporal variation in behavior". The workshop and symposium are being organized by Andy Dosmann. Contact Andy if you are interested in attending the pre-conference workshop [link]. 
  • Our paper "Shared genetic diversity across the global invasive range of the Monk parakeet suggests a common restricted geographic origin and the possibility of parallel selection" is now available online at Molecular Ecology [link] and has been getting some nice press coverage [link].
    • I participated in the NIMBioS Investigative Workshop "Information and Entropy in Biological Systems" [link]