FishTracking (Colin Twomey)



From individual to collective decision-making in birds

with Iain Couzin and Martin Wikelski

University of Konstanz and Max Planck Institute for Ornithology

Location: Konstanz, Germany

Duration: 1 year, available immediately (with possibility of renewal)

We seek a motivated postdoctoral candidate to work in an interdisciplinary, international team to study collective sensing and decision-making in birds. The candidate will have access to a newly-developed, fully automatic, 3D tracking technology developed for birds and deployed in a large (15 x 7 x 4m) state-of-the art indoor aviary at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Konstanz/Radolfzell. In addition to 3D tracking this aviary is instrumented for automatic call localisation, allowing the study of multimodal (visual and acoustic) communication. Research questions of interest include innovation, cognition, social learning, individual and collective sensing / decision-making. Candidates are given considerable freedom to develop their research interests, and therefore are welcome to propose their own research direction and species (experience with birds is strongly advantageous). In addition the candidate will have access to world-class outdoor aviary facilities, research vehicles, newly-renovated office space and extensive logistical and technical support.

The candidate will work in a dynamic research environment, and will be based in the Department of Collective Behaviour ( see http://collectivebehaviour.com/) at the University of Konstanz in the historic city of Konstanz in Southern Germany. The University of Konstanz one of the nine “elite universities” in Germany. The University has almost 12,000 students and is situated on a hill overlooking Lake Constance, the Island of Mainau and Mainau Forest. The campus is a short cycle or bus ride from the city centre. Konstanz has a large and well preserved old town (Altstadt), and a vibrant day and nightlife, including many museums, galleries, and parks. Our nearest airport is Zurich approximately 50 mins drive / 1hr5mins direct train. The Max Planck Institutes and the University of Konstanz focus on excellence in research and the successful applicant will benefit from outstanding infrastructure, opportunities for training and a highly collaborative and international research environment.

Our working language is English and consequently applicants must be fluent in this language; no knowledge of German is required. This appointment is for one year initially, with the possibility of renewal based on satisfactory performance. Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience, and benefits are included. 

The University of Konstanz and the Max Planck Society are committed to increasing the number of individuals with disabilities in their workforce and therefore we encourage applications from such qualified individuals. Furthermore, we seek to increase the number of women in those areas where they are underrepresented and therefore explicitly encourages women to apply. We offer extensive support to help researchers balance professional and home life, including assistance with childcare and support of the elderly, and flexibility in how employees arrange working hours. For details see http://www.mpg.de/equal_opportunities.

For further information regarding this position please contact Iain Couzin icouzin@orn.mpg.de.

This position is available immediately, and will be open until filled. To apply please send an email to Dr. Daniel Piechowski (Science Coordinator) at dpiechowski@orn.mpg.de and Iain Couzin (Director) icouzin@orn.mpg.de, including a statement of interest (including possible research directions) and CV in PDF format, with “BIRD DECISION-MAKING” in the subject line.


There is currently a funded, and immediately available postdoctoral and/or PhD position to employ a new immersive Virtual Reality system for freely moving animals to investigate the sensory basis of schooling in fish in the Couzin Lab. This project will integrate VR and conventional experimentation to map how properties such as rate, and timing, of turning and/or acceleration/deceleration, as well as the position on the retina prior to, or during, behavioral change impacts movement decisions of focal real fish. Of particular interest will be how individuals integrate information, such as changes in motion of others (e.g. turning, startle behavior), in space (different regions of the visual field) and time (the time between the observed changes). These data will be used to determine the algorithms employed by zebrafish when making movement decisions. We will work with colleagues in the Computer Science department to seek machine learning methodology that allows the unsupervised identification of the visual features that are maximally-informative regarding individual decisions in a collective context.

If you are interested in this project please contact Iain Couzin with subject line “FishVR position”.


We welcome applicants for visiting or resident PhD, postdoctoral or PI positions, as well as sabbatical visitors. There are excellent funding opportunities to conduct research in Germany.

For those interested in postdoctoral positions the following links may be helpful:

Humboldt research fellowships for postdocs. Application: any time. https://www.humboldt-foundation.de/web/humboldt-fellowship-postdoc.html

Marie Curie fellowships. Application deadline: September 14.https://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/portal/desktop/en/opportunities/h2020/calls/h2020-msca-if-2017.html#c,topics=callIdentifier/t/H2020-MSCA-IF-2017/1/1/1/default-group&callStatus/t/Forthcoming/1/1/0/default-group&callStatus/t/Open/1/1/0/default-group&callStatus/t/Closed/1/1/0/default-group&+identifier/desc

DFG (Candidates can apply as PI). Application: any time: http://www.dfg.de/en/research_funding/faq/faq_temporary_positions/index.html

Emmy Noether Program for Independent Group Leaders (6 year positions): http://www.dfg.de/en/research_funding/programmes/individual/emmy_noether/in_brief/index.html

Human Frontiers postdoc fellowships. Application deadline: August 24.http://www.hfsp.org/funding/postdoctoral-fellowships

Freigeist fellowship VW foundation. Application deadline: October 12.https://www.volkswagenstiftung.de/nc/en/funding/our-funding-portfolio-at-a-glance/freigeist-fellowships.html?tx_itaofundinginitiative_itaofundinginitiativelist%5Bcontroller%5D=FundingInitiative&cHash=29d4f3d9556a5d7f02d3a438b7a91ac7

Branco Weiss fellowship. Application deadline: January 15. http://www.society-in-science.org/who-we-are.html

Zukunftskolleg fellowships: Application: after call. https://www.uni-konstanz.de/zukunftskolleg/

Please contact the relevant host PI (Iain, Damien or Alex) for further information.