Founder & Supervisor
I am currently professor at the Institute of Biology at the University of Graz (Austria). From 2001-2006 I started to found a research group working in the national and international research grants we acquired. After my stay in the U.S. (ETSU) in 2007, I founded the Artificial Life Laboratory as a part (research lab) of the Department for Zoology. Since then, I act as lab supervisor in this lab.
My research interest has always been on complex adaptive systems, which could be natural systems, like animal swarms, herds or flocks, or artificial swarm systems, like robot swarms or transportation networks. I am fascinated by the features of swarm intelligence, collective decision making and self-regulation in natural organisms most prominently in honeybees, but also in other social insects or organisms. Phenomena like self-organization, phase transitions, emergence, and pattern formation are the key features that interest me in these systems. My method is to decompose these focal systems into their intrinsic networks of component interactions, in order to reveal the governing feedback loops at the core of these systems. These insights allow me to decompose these systems into „functional building blocks“, a perspective that generates a fundamental understanding of these systems. These functional building blocks can be easily translated and recombined to create systems in other domains, like robot swarms, morphogenetic agents or bio-inspired algorithms.
My second field of research is ecology and evolution. I approach topics in these fields mainly with mathematical models and computer simulations. I teach these subjects intensively and approach this topic also in many of my research projects on evolutionary computation algorithms, evolutionary robotics, modular and reconfigurable robotics as well as in other typical research projects that reside within the scientific field of Artificial Life.
Ultimately, I plan to bring these research interests together by aiming for an unified concept that I call „Ecosystem Hacking“, which aims at combining my diverse research interests in order to create novel bio-hybrid systems that are partially living (organisms) and partially artificial (robots), building new „biohybrid animats“ for monitoring, for supporting and for repairing the broken ecosystems of today’s biosphere.
I’m currently senior researcher in the Artificial Life Lab, coordinating the project ROBOCOENOSIS. Former projects I have participated in were I-SWARM, SYMBRION, REPLICATOR, CoCoro, subCULTron and HIVEOPOLIS. My field of research and main interests are bio inspired robotics, bioinspired algorithms, especially swarm algorithms. Besides this I am also interested in models of interaction of genes, neurons, hormones and memes in artificial evolution, especially regarding evolution and embryogenesis of morphological and neuronal structures (e.g., evolution of the artificial brains). The „long distance goal“ of my research is the development of an artificial open-ended evolutionary model, in which to observe the feedbacks between ecological processes, morphological adaptation and trans-individual genetic interactions.
REPLICATOR, Honeybee aggregation, I-SWARM, Antbots, CoCoRo, florarobotica, subCULTron, ASSISIbf, HIVEOPOLIS, Robocoenosis
I am primarily concerned with the internal and external administration of the lab’s national and EU projects and the management of its IT resources. Additionally, I contribute to the design and evaluation of scientific experiments, especially with control software and automated evaluation of experimental results (e.g. visual object tracking, thermographic imaging). My primary research field is the ethology of social insects both in living organisms and computer simulation.
Honeybee aggregation, Rebodiment, subCULTron, ASSISIbf, HIVEOPOLIS, Robocoenosis, RoboRoyale
I received my PhD in Natural Sciences in 2022. I did my master thesis within the framework of the FWF-Project „Temperature-induced aggregation of young honeybees: Individual behaviour vs. collective behaviour“ which dealt with the behaviour of young honeybees in complex temperature gradients, and my PhD within the frameworks of the EU-funded projects ASSISIbf and HIVEOPOLIS, resarching the modulation of behaviour in honeybees. The main emphasis of my work is on the investigation of swarm-intelligent behaviour in honeybees, mainly collective decision making and emerging group-level behaviours, and the influence of various physical stimuli on the bees‘ collective behaviour.
Currently I’m a PostDoc, conducting research and taking over project management tasks, in the project HIVEOPOLIS.
As a Postdoc of the HIVEOPLOIS team of the Artificial Life Lab I am currently testing new technology for a future bee hive.
In the past, my key interests have been particular fields of research in social evolution, such as caste fate or worker policing, nestmate recognition, and other fields of research in the behavioural ecology of honey bees and stingless bees, respectively.
In 2014 I finishing my Bachelor Thesis at the Artificial Life Laboratory, in 2019 my Master’s Thesis in behavioral physiology followed. In my Master Thesis I worked on various forms of pattern formation in biological and artificial systems. Currently I am a PhD student, employed by the COLIBRI inniative. I am involved in the projects ATEMPGRAD and HIVEOPOLIS and also work on the Primordial Particle System.
ASSISIbf, Primordial Particle Systems, HIVEOPOLIS, ATEMPGRAD, RoboRoyale
Asya Ilgun is an architect, computational designer and researcher. Her role in our lab group is to think of the material interfaces where biology and technology merge. Currently, she is a PhD candidate within the design, material and fabrication track of the H2020 FET_PROACTIVE research project HIVEOPOLIS – a technologically enhanced housing for honeybees. She is interested in varied scales of design prototyping focusing on biodesign, programming, data visualisation to broader architectural concept development and public communication via Maker Platforms.
Daniel Nicolas Hofstadler
Daniel Hofstadler obtained his MSc in Botany from the University of Graz in 2013. In his thesis, he developed a model for self-organizing mycelial growth. He holds a BSc in Plant Physiology, has studied Computational and Systems Sciences on the side. He currently works on his PhD exploring appropriate machine behaviour in plant-robot bio-hybrids. He worked in the EU-funded projects FLORAROBOTICA and HIVEOPOLIS.
Michael Vogrin is researching social systems in biology and psychology using agent-based models. In the past, he focused on modern forms of mating behavior in humans (dating apps) and is currently doing research on opinion forming and the confirmation bias.
I am a PhD student focusing on various applications of living life forms in freshwater robotics. Currently working as a limnologist for the Robocoenosis project which aims to develop a novel paradigm of “life form in the loop”. I received my Master’s degree in Marine Biology at Bangor University (Wales) in 2019. In the past, I worked as an aquarist in various places in Europe and participated in research projects focusing, among others, on underwater bioacoustics and animal behaviour.
I completed my dual undergraduate degrees in mechanical electronics at Tongji University in China and Ernst-Abbe-Hochschule Jena in Germany in 2017. After that, I received my master’s degree in electrical automation at the Technical University of Berlin in 2019. I have several years of work experience, mainly working in industrial automation, robotics, building automation, etc.
Currently, I am a Ph.D. student at the Swarm & Computational Intelligence Laboratory (SwaCIL) UK, under the supervision of Dr. Farshad Arvin. Meanwhile, I joined the Project RoboRoyale at the Artificial Life Lab in Graz and work with the ASSISI platform. My research interests include swarm robotics and machine learning. My current research is about bio-inspired aggregation with a robot swarm using a self-built open-source platform.
As a PhD student in the Robocoenosis project, I am currently developing different methods to use animals as environmental sensors for an aquatic biohybrid system. My focus in the project is on behavioural analysis of bivalves and the evaluation of aquatic plankton diversity. Before my PhD, I worked on comparative morphology in my bachelor’s and partly master’s degree. For my master’s thesis I switched to molecular phylogenetics of scaphopods (molluscs). Along the way, I also worked at the Natural History Museum Vienna in a project on the study of aquatic trematode diversity in Austria and in a project of the City of Vienna on the conservation of breeding birds.
Valerin Stokanic originated from the field of physics and mainly focuses on the physical description and numerical analysis and modeling of biological systems.
I am working on my Bachelor Thesis at the Artificial Life Laboratory, where I am currently employed as a student assistent.
Dajana Lazic is modelling the foraging behavior of honeybees and researching the effect of waggle dancing robots. Additionally, she helps the lab with conducting experiments.
Ifeoma Grassl is assisting biologists of the Artificial Life Lab in conducting their research projects. This mainly includes conducting experiments on honey bees and proofreading.
I did my bachelor in biology at the Karl-Franzens University and did my bachelor thesis in the Artificial Life Lab. In the last couple of years I found an interest in programming and working with electronics. This is why I started programming with Python where I am focusing on data science and machine learning at the moment. Currently I am pursuing my masters degree in behavioral physiology and working on my master thesis in the lab. There I hope to learn a lot of new skills and also put my acquired skills to work. Additionally, I am studying molecular biology for a better understanding of animal behavior on a molecular level with the final goal of a masters degree in biochemistry and molecular biomedicine.
Sarah Schönwetter-Fuchs was working on her Master thesis on temperature related behavior of honeybees at the Artificial Life Laboratory.
Matthias BecherArtificial Life Laboratory
Payam Zahadat received her Master and PhD degrees in Artificial Intelligence (Computer Science and Engineering) from Shiraz University, Iran in 2005 and 2011 respectively. For a duration of one year (2009-2010) during her PhD, she worked as a research assistant at the Modular Robotics Lab, the Maersk McKinney Moller Institute, University of Southern Denmark. She had a postdoc position at the Artificial Life Lab of the Department of Zoology, University of Graz since 2011, and for half a year (2018-2019) at the IT University of Copenhagen. Currently she is a university assistant (officially translated and loosely equivalent to assistant professor) in the University of Graz. During the last years, she has worked in the EU-funded projects florarobotica, ASSISIbf, CoCoRo, SYMBRION and REPLICATOR. Her research interests include both theoretical studies and applications in the field of swarm/multi-modular robotics and systems, self-organization, evolutionary algorithms and evolutionary robotics, and gene regulatory networks.
Bianca Pichler-Thier earned her bachelor degree in Zoology in 2006. She was employed as Project Assistant at the Artificial Life and also provided the honeybees for the experiments in the lab.
Joshua Cherian Varughese
He worked as a PhD student on the project SubCULTron. His field of research is bio inspired swarm robotics, swarm intelligence, multi agent systems etc. He is an Electrical Engineer (B.Tech Hons.) from National Institute of Technology Jamshedpur. After having worked with painting robots at Maruti Suzuki India Limited, he did his masters from National University of Singapore (NUS) in Mechatronics.
Sibylle Hahshold was a PhD-student, EU project manager and member of the scientific staff of the Artificial Life Lab. She finished her master in Biology in 2008 at the Departement of Zoology, University of Graz, Austria. She was researcher in the FWF funded project: "Temperature-induced aggregation of young honeybees: Individual behaviour vs. collective behaviour, and project manager and researcher in the EU-FP7 project "CoCoRo" and the EU-FP7 project "ASSISIbf". Her main research interests are collective behaviour and decision making in honeybees.
Michael Bodi received his masters degree in Zoology from the University of Graz in 2012. He worked on his master thesis within the framework of the EU-Project CoCoRo and conducted research in the EU-project ASSISIbf. The main emphasis of his work is on the investigation of Bio-inspired aggregation and decision-making systems.
Ziad Salem was employed as a Post-Doc researcher in the ASSISIbf Project. He received his PhD degrees in the Artificial Intelligence Laboratories, from the Systems Engineering division, Cardiff School of Engineering, Cardiff, University Cardiff, UK in 2002. During his PhD, he worked as a systems manager at the Manufacturing Engineering Centre at Cardiff University. He worked as an Associate Professor at the Aleppo University, Electrical and Electronic Engineering Faculty, Computer Engineering Department. He also worked as Associate Professor at the American university of Nigeria, computer Science department. He participated in a number of European projects such as Tempus and Erasmus. His research interests include machine learning, data mining, rules induction, evolutionary algorithms, swarm intelligence, information technology.
He received my masters degree in Physics form the Georg-August Universität in Göttingen, Germany in 2016. In his master thesis he worked on "Causal Entropic Forces: Intelligent Behaviour, Dynamics and Pattern Formation" at the Max-Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization where he investigated fundamental mechanisms underlying cognitive intelligent behavior.
He did his PhD at the Institute of Systems Sciences, Innovation and Sustainability Research in Graz and worked as a member of the project subCULTron. His academic focus is on both understanding and inducing self organization in social systems and swarms.
He is a theoretical physicist, interested in biophysics, swarm behaviour, nonlinear dynamics and complex systems. He obtained his MSc degree in Theoretical Physics at Graz University in 2014. From January 2015 to June 2016 he was working as a scientific employee in the field of Brain Computer Interfaces (BCI) in g.tec medical engineering GmbH.
Daniel E. MoserArtificial Life Laboratory
In 2017 he finished his bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of Bielefeld. Currently he is studying his master in ‘Verhaltensphysiologie’ (behavioural physiology) at the University of Graz. His work in the Artificial Life Laboratory was about a modelling approach of a paper wasp population, in collaboration with Istvan Karsai.
He studies environmental system sciences with focus on economics (USW VWL) at the University of Graz. He finished his bachelor degree in 2014 and was working on his master thesis at the artificial life lab with the topic of slime mold computing.
Jürgen Stradner had a PostDoc position in the projects SYMBRION and REPLICATOR. As his PhD was in the field of biology his scientific background is related with neurobiology, theoretical biology and evolution. His research and interests deal with Artificial Life in the broadest sense. There is evolution, ecology, neurobiology, neuroethology, sensory ecology and ecological evolution on the one - the biological - side. On the other side - the mathematical, interdisciplinary one - there is evolutionary robotics, evolutionary algorithms, artificial neural networks, self-organization, theoretical biology and modelling.
Heiko Hamann received a Master’s degree in computer science from the University of Stuttgart, Germany in 2006 and a PhD in engineering (robotics) from the University of Karlsruhe, Germany in 2008. He was a PostDoc at the Artificial Life Lab Graz of the Department of Zoology, University of Graz between 2009 and 2012 working in the projects SYMBRION and REPLICATOR funded by the European Union. Now he is with the Department of Computer Science, University of Paderborn, Germany. (see also heikohamann.de)
Olga Kernbach was a PostDoc researcher in the ASSISIbf project funded by the European Comission. In 2011 she received a PhD degree in computer science (robotics) at the University of Stuttgart, Germany. She was involved into former projects, such as SFB467 (German DFG), TFB059 (German DFG), I-SWARM (EU), Golem (EU) and REPLICATOR/SYMBRION (EU). Her main research interest is collective robotics, self-organization in artificial collective systems, collective behaviour and decision making in robotic swarms.
Christoph Möslingers work at the Artificial Life Lab comprised simulations and experiments with robotic swarms. He joined the Artificial Life Lab in 2005 as an internship of his study course at the University of Applied Sciences in St. Pölten, Austria. Since then he has co-authored several papers concerning simulations and experiments with swarm robots and also helped to construct, maintain and demonstrate a real robotic swarm. His research focuses on swarming behaviour, distributed sensor networks and communication-less algorithms for small and simple swarm robots. Withing the framework of the EU-project CoCoRo he developed a communication-less flocking algorithm to be used in autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs).
In 2005 Daniela Kengyel started at the University of Applied Sciences in St. Pölten, Austria, as a student in the field of computer simulations. She joined the Artificial Life Lab in 2008 to work for her diploma thesis in the project Thermobots . After finishing the diploma thesis in 2009, she continued to work in the field of swarm robotics and on AUV-simulations for the project CoCoRo with NetLogo-3D and worked on her PhD-thesis in the project REBODIMENT .
Thomas Kunzfeld is a student of Telematics (or "Information and Computer Engineering") at the university of technology in Graz. Before that and during his first few semesters he had multiple internships at the Artificial Life Lab until he started a steady employment there. He worked mostly with the e-Puck robots in the REBODIMENT project and developed hardware as well as software for this project.
Yannick worked as a research assistant on the publication "Ultimate Ecology: How a Socio-Economic Game Can Evolve Into a Resilient Ecosystem of Agents". The project was about explaining the emergence of cooperation in evolutionary and life-like populations. Generally, Yannick’s research interests are the emergence of social patterns, transitions, and quantitative and computational social science. (see also yannickoswald.de)
Eva Julia Bauer
Eva Julia Bauer worked on her Bachelor Thesis which concentrated on the evolution of complex behaviour in an multi-agent system that she created with Netlogo.
Ina Höfernig was employed as Project Assistant at the Artificial Life Lab and supported the team in administrative affairs.
After finishing his Bachelor study "Computational Sciences" he started an interdisciplinary and individual Master Study "Computational Life Sciences". His Bachelor Thesis concentrated on an implementation of a genome based virtual embryogenesis system. He was working on the extension of this system (evolutionary computation, parameter analysis) and its application to virtual and real swarm robots provided by the SYMBRION and REPLICATOR EU projects.
His work in the Artificial Life Lab mainly included designing algorithms, extensions and experiments for the ePuck educational robot and other robotic platforms. In addition he was responsible for the website and communication infrastructure of the CoCoRo project. Web: http://www.ralfmayet.net