Prof. Dr. Michael L Smith

Affiliated Scientist
Department of Collective Behavior
Auburn University

Main Focus

Michael Smith is a social insect biologist interested in the patterns and processes of colony growth, development, and reproduction. Michael completed his PhD in 2017 with Tom Seeley, in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University.  There, he studied honey bee colony puberty, and how workers detect that their colony can “afford” to invest in reproductive infrastructure (drone comb). In the Couzin group at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, Michael will use automated tracking to investigate how individual honey bee workers detect and respond to the developmental state of their colony.

Curriculum Vitae


PhD     2017             Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

                                  Department of Neurobiology and Behavior

                                  Advisor: Thomas D Seeley    

                            Dissertation Title: Growth, development, and reproductive investments in

                            honey bee colonies


BA      2010              Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

                                  Department of Molecular Biology

                                  Advisor: Mark D Rose

                                  Thesis Title: Mating induced transcription factors Kar4p and Ste12p –

                                                overexpression toxicity in Saccharomyces cerevisiae


IB        2006              United World College of the Atlantic, Wales, UK



Research Experience

2018-present   Simons Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, Dept. of Collective Behavior,

                    Max Planck Institute for Ornithology / University of Konstanz

                        Advisor: Iain D Couzin


2011-2017       PhD Research, Dept. of Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University

                        Advisor: Thomas D Seeley


2010-2011       Rotary Ambassadorial Research Scholar, Bijen Group at Plant Research

                        International, Wageningen University and Research

                        Advisor: Tjeerd Blacquière


2009-2010       Research Assistant, Dept. of Biological Sciences, Wellesley College

                        Advisor: Heather R Mattila


2008-2010       Undergraduate Research, Dept. of Molecular Biology, Princeton University

                        Advisors: Mark D Rose, Alison E Gammie


Honors & Awards

2018                Zukunftskolleg Associated Fellow

2018                Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften: How Collectives Decide?

2017                Simons Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow: Life Sciences Research Foundation

2017                Eastern Apicultural Society: Student Award

2016                1st place in Oral Competition: International Congress of Entomology

2015                Ig Nobel Prize in Physiology and Entomology

2014                Best Poster Award: Neurobiology and Behavior 50th Anniversary Symposium

2014                Most Innovative Award: Harry W Greene GCS Competition

2011                National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program

2010-2011       Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar

2008                Kathryn W. Davis 100 Projects for Peace

2004-2010       Davis United World College Scholar

2004                Boy Scouts of America: Eagle Scout

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