Roughgarden Lab

  • Department of Biology
  • School of Humanities and Sciences

Research Issues and Topics

My lab has focussed in recent years on the evolution of social behavior, particularly in aspects pertaining to reproduction, such as family dynamics and courtship. We have pioneered in introducing techniques from cooperative game theory for understanding how teamwork develops, and in introducing techniques from the economic theory of the firm for understanding how a family is organized. This approach consists of the "social selection project".

For my retirement in April 2011, I moved to Hawai'i where I have been continuing that research. In the Fall of 2012, I joined the faculty at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology as an adjunct professor. If you are interested in graduate study, a post doc, or collaboration, please contact me at I'd love to hear from you.

One of the two defining features of the social-selection project is to understand social behavior by beginning with offspring production and working back in the life cycle to the mating period. In contrast, the classic sexual-selection approach begins with mating and works forward in the life cycle.

The second defining feature is to model social behavior as a two-tier process with the dynamics of learning and development at the lower tier and the dynamics of ordinary individual natural selection at the higher tier. This framing of the theory allows solution concepts such as the Nash Bargaining Solution to be used in the behavioral tier in addition to the more familiar Nash (Competitive) Equilbrium.

For a list of the publications from my laboratory, please see my CV website, which is found here.

Thanks for your interest.


Updated, May 9, 2012