simonSimon Garnier

Phone: +1 973-353-2527
Address: Boyden Hall, Rutgers University
195 University Avenue
Newark, NJ 07102, USA

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Current position

I am currently an Assistant Professor in the Federated Department of Biology of the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and Rutgers University. I am the head of the Swarm Lab, an interdisciplinary research lab that studies the mechanisms underlying Collective Behaviors and Swarm Intelligence in natural and artificial systems. The Swarm Lab started to operate in July 2012.

Research interests

My work is related to various research fields, including ethology, experimental psychology, cognitive and social sciences and swarm intelligence.

I am mainly interested by the emergence of intelligent collective behaviors in groups of social animals. I dedicate a part of my work on the observation, description and modelling of the self-organized processes leading to consensus decision making in social insect colonies and schools of fish. I also study phenomena related to traffic organization in ants and human beings. Finally, I apply the principles underlying self-organization in social animals to the coordination of robotics swarms, especially to perform efficient collective decisions in unreliable environments.

My work always relies on a strong experimental background that supports the design of data-driven models. I believe 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.

Relevant work experience

2012: Lecturer at the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University (Princeton, NJ, USA). I taught the EEB 314 Comparative Physiology undergraduate course.

2009-2012: Post-doctoral research fellow in the CouzinLab, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University (Princeton, NJ, USA). I worked there under the supervision of Prof. Iain Couzin on various problems related to traffic organization, information transfer, living architectures and collective decision-making in ants, fish and human beings.

2004-2008: PhD student in the Research Center For Animal Cognition at the University of Toulouse (Toulouse, France). I worked there under the supervision of Dr. Guy Theraulaz. I studied collective decision-making and traffic organization in ants and human beings, and I designed bio-inspired self-organizing behaviors for collective decision in robotic swarms.

2004-2008: Assistant Teacher and Assistant Lecturer at the University of Toulouse (Toulouse, France). I taught labs and lectures for undergraduate and master students in animal behavior, experimental methodology, social psychology, statistics, mathematical and computer modelling.


2008: PhD in Ethology from University of Toulouse (Toulouse, France) – Title: “Collective decisions in swarm intelligence systems” – Advisor: Dr. Guy Theraulaz – Jury: Prof. Jean-Louis Deneubourg, Prof. Philippe Gaussier, Dr. Nicolas Franceschini, Prof. Dario Floreano, Prof. Richard Fournier.

2004: DEA (post-graduate degree) in Neuroscience, Behavior and Cognition from University of Toulouse (Toulouse, France) – 1st class honors.

2003: M.Sc. in Behavior and Neuroscience from University of Toulouse (Toulouse, France) – 1st class honors.

2002: B.Sc. in Biochemistry, Cellular Biology and Physiology from University of Bordeaux 2 (Bordeaux, France) – 1st class honors.

Grants and awards

Pending: NSF-IIS – “RI: Medium: Collaborative Research: Living Architectures: From Army Ants to Self-Assembling Robot Swarms”.

Pending: NSF-MCB – “Bilateral BBSRC NSF/BIO: Collaborative Research: Physarum Polycephalum as an Active Mechanical Medium”.

2014-2016: ARC Discovery Projects – “Risky Business: Using biological systems to mitigate risk in supply chains and transportation networks” (AUD$490,000).

2009: Oxford Risk grant for scientific expertise on a research program on human crowds: 5000 £/ ~8000 $.

2009: Fyssen Foundation Postdoctoral study grant for a study on trail network formation in Argentine ants at Princeton University (Princeton, NJ, USA): 25000 €/ ~34,000 $.

2006: ATUPS Mobility grant from University of Toulouse (Toulouse, France) for a 2 months visit at the Autonomous Systems Lab (EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland, now at the ETH Zürich): 1,500 €/ ~2,000 $.

2005: Best Student Paper award awarded at the 2nd IEEE Swarm Intelligence Symposium (Pasadena, CA, USA): 500$.

2005: Thales Grant for a lecture at the Thales Annual Meeting on Human Resources Management: 2,500 €/ ~3,500$.

2005-2008: French Ministry of Higher Education doctoral study grant: ~50,000 €/ ~66,000$.

Media coverage

Click here to access a list of all media coverage related to my work.


Click here to access my publication list.

Other scientific activities


  1. Advisory committee member, First International Symposium on Swarm Behavior and Bio-Inspired Robotics (SWARM2015).
  2. Chair and co-organizer, Program Symposium on “Social Insects as Models for Biological Complexity: Lessons Learned and Challenges on the Horizon”, 62nd Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America (EntSoc14).
  3. Technical Program Chair, 9th International Conference on Swarm Intelligence (ANTS 2014).
  4. Organizer, Workshop on “Quantative analysis of collective behavior – from the lab to the wild”, 51st Annual Conference of the Animal Behavior Society (ABS2014).
  5. Moderator, “Section 2: Colony organization & division of labor”, 3rd Meeting on Social Insects in the North-East Regions (SINNERS3.0).
  6. Program Committee member, 14th International Conference on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living Systems (ALife 14).
  7. Program Committee member, 2014 Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO 2014).
  8. Program Committee member, 12th European Conference on Artificial Life (ECAL 13).
  9. Moderator, “Graduate Student Ten-Minute Paper Competition: SysEB”, 61st Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America (EntSoc13).
  10. General chair and co-initiator, 1st Meeting on Social Insects in the North-East Regions (SINNERS1.0).
  11. Chair, FACM’13 Mathematical Biology minisymposia on “The Mathematics of Swarms, Flocks and Crowds”.
  12. Program Committee member, 2nd Conference on Living Machines (LM 2013).
  13. Program Committee member, 8th International Conference on Swarm Intelligence (ANTS 2012).
  14. Program Committee member, 13th edition of UK’s conference ‘Towards Autonomous Robotics Systems’ (TAROS 2012).
  15. Track chair, 13th International Conference on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living Systems (Alife13, 2012).
  16. Program Committee member, 2011 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2001).
  17. Program Committee member, 2011 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA 2011).
  18. Program Committee member, 12th edition of UK’s conference ‘Towards Autonomous Robotics Systems’ (TAROS 2011).
  19. Program Committee member, 10th International Symposium on Distributed Autonomous Robotics Systems (DARS 2010).
  20. Program Committee member, 7th International Conference on Swarm Intelligence (ANTS 2010).
  21. Program Committee member, Swarm Cognition Workshop at COGSCI 2009.
  22. Program Committee member, Journées Nationales de la Recherche en Robotique 2007 (JNRR 2007).

Editorial work:

  1. Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Swarm Intelligence (ANTS2014). Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Vol. 8667.
  2. Editor for Swarm Intelligence since 2012.

External referee for international journals:

Animal Behavior • Behavioral Ecology • Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology • Bioinspiration & Biomimetics • Cognitive Systems Research • Ecological Modelling • Ethology • IEEE Transactions on Evolutionary Computation • IEEE Robotics & Automation Magazine • Journal of Experimental Biology • Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology • Journal of Insect Physiology • Journal of the Royal Society Interface • Journal of Theoretical Biology • Naturwissenschaften • Neural Computing and Applications • PLoS Computational Biology • PLoS ONE • Swarm Intelligence • Transactions on Evolutionary Computation

Other hobbies and interests

Sports: When living in France I played team handball for 16 years and coached youth handball for 4 years. I am now an active player for the New York City Team Handball Club.

New technologies: I closely follow the development of new technologies in general, with particular attention paid to advances in image processing and online social networking.

General and political news: I follow national and international current events, and am particularly interested in the political, social, cultural and economic factors that surround collective movements and crowd behaviors.

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