George I. Hagstrom
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
office: M-29, Princeton Environmental Institute, Guyot Hall
mail: Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Guyot Hall, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544
I have been a member of Simon Levin’s lab at Princeton University since 2014. My research is broadly focused on the application of theoretical and computational methods, some dervied from theoretical physics, to complex systems. So far I have studied problems in marine ecology, biogeochemistry, and on collective behavior. In each of these cases, I look for ways to bridge from the microscopic scales, such as those governing the internal physiology of phytoplankton or the individual decisions of a member of an animal collective, to macroscopic scales such as entire populations, ecosystems, or even the entire global ocean. Key to this goal is the modeling (using biophysics, physiological measurements, and even different ‘omics techniques) of the physiological tradeoffs between different traits, which enables me to use evolutionary dynamics to predict emergent trait-distributions, and to then study how those distributions feed-back to influence the environment.
I began my career as a mathematical physcist, studying physics as an undergraduate at Caltech and as a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin, where my thesis advisor was Phil Morrison. While there, I studied bifurcations in infinite-dimensional Hamiltonian systems such as the Vlasov-Poisson equation of plasma physics as well as transport in turbulent fluids and convection. I completed a postdoc at the Courant Institue of Mathematical Sciences, where I began work on shock-waves in non-ideal magnetohydrodynamics, and have also written papers on the interactions between natural selection and phylogenetic tree reconstructions (while I was at Caltech, in collaboration with the lab of Charles Ofria), and on high-order finite-difference methods.
At Courant, I became fascinated by complex biological systems such as bird flocks, fish schools, and other social aggregations. How do complex collective behaviors emerge from individual interactions, and how do these behaviors evolve? To pursue this goal, I took a postdoc with Simon Levin and Iain Couzin at Princeton University, where I developed a general interest in the interactions between ecology, evolution, and physiology across different time and length scales.