Prof. Anand Sarwate invited to the 12th Annual National Academies Keck Futures Initiative (NAKFI) conference, Collective Behavior: From Cells to Societies
The NAKFI conference on social behaviors is intended to initiate a new synthesis of the regulation, dynamics and evolution of social behavior from microbes to metazoans. The conference will help forge a dynamic research community out of scientists, engineers and doctors using disparate approaches to a common problem: how and why do molecules, cells and organisms communicate with each other and modify their activities based on these communications? This NAKFI conference will bring together physician-scientists defining the molecular mechanisms and consequences of signaling in cell-cell communication; evolutionary biologists and ecologists studying dynamic spatial and temporal interactions of complex communities from biofilms to animal groups; quantitative and theoretical experts predicting and modeling social networks; and engineers and applied systems specialists harnessing community organization for the development of useful medical products and bioremediation strategies.
Historically, the study of “social behaviors” has been concerned with the interactions between conspecific animals. But the study of social behaviors is much broader than that. Studies of sociality are actively being pursued at all scales of life: from microbial quorum sensing to swarming in animal flocks to the rise of social disorders such as autism. Surprisingly, experts in distinct areas rarely communicate with each other. As such, there are many “re-discoveries” of basic ideas and lost opportunities for connecting results across different scales and fields.