Elizabeth A. Hobson            

Contact Information
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Follow me @HobsonEA 

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, animal cognition, temporal dynamics of network structure, dominance hierarchies, social learning, fission-fusion dynamics.

Hobson research overview

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

November 2015
  • I wrote a new tutorial about describing how to score behavioral events as music, using the program LilyPond
Behavior as music

September 2015
Images (c) Greg Matthews
  • I recorded a video called "Hobson research overview" where I describe my research questions and approaches. This video is based on a lightning talk I gave at the AOU conference this summer.
  • I had a great time at the "Evolution of Warfare" workshop at NIMBioS. Lots of great talks and fresh ideas!

August 2015
  • I presented a talk called "Temporal dynamics of attack strategies provide insight into parrot social cognition" as part of the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology seminar series at University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
July 2015
  • I will be attending the American Ornithologists' Union / Cooper Ornithological Society Conference in Oklahoma. I am giving two talks:
    • AOU/COS mini-talk symposium  "Behavioral interactions in parrots provide insight into social and cognitive skills": Thursday 30. July, OU Student Union, 4:20pm.
    • AOU/COS research talk "Social feedback and the emergence of rank in avian society": Friday, 31. July, Regents Room, 1:45pm. 
  • I was very happy to be back in the southwest visiting the Santa Fe Institute for a week, collaborating with Simon DeDeo and Dan Mønster. I also gave talk titled "Dynamics of aggression provide insight into social cognition" on 06 July [link to abstract].