Michael L Smith

Hey! Check out our new and improved site: smithbeelab.com

(also, btw, starting 1 Jan 2021, I'll be at Auburn University - woop woop!)

Michael L Smith

Simons Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow

Department of Collective Behavior - Couzin Lab

Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior / University of Konstanz, Germany


I am broadly interested in how social insect colonies are organized, and how workers detect their colony's state. Working at both the colony-level, and individual-level, my research focuses on how units detect group state.

To do this, I rely on a deep understanding of the natural history of my chosen study organism, colonies of the honey bee, Apis mellifera. Using state-of-the-art automated tracking in collaboration with the Landgraf Lab, and some very large observation hives, my research seeks to elucidate how workers allocate colony resources between survival, growth, and reproduction.

How an organism detects its developmental state, and then shifts resources accordingly, is relevant at any level of biological organization, whether it's a unicellular yeast, a multicellular plant, or a superorganism honey bee colony. As part of my interdisciplinary work, I am also a research fellow at the Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften, working on group heterogeneity across levels of biological organization.

Please see my Google Scholar profile for a complete list of publications.

I am currently based at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior / University of Konstanz, in Konstanz, Germany.

Students interested in pursuing a thesis project (BS, MS, PhD) should contact me via email. Please be sure to include a brief statement of research interests, three potential research questions, and a CV. I encourage students from across the sciences to contact me, as this research incorporates biologists, computer scientists, engineers, and physicists.

CV (updated 05 April 2020):

MLS CV 2020


Wondering what you're looking at? Three age-matched cohorts of bees, each cohort represented by a single color channel (RGB). In this example, we use a 4-hour sliding window to visualize within-day dynamics, and how the different cohorts use space within the nest. Can you guess which color represents the foragers?