Principal investigator

Andrew Hein is a theoretical biologist, ecologist, and ethologist based jointly at NOAA and UC Santa Cruz’ Institute of Marine Sciences. Prior to joining UCSC/NOAA, he was a James S. McDonnell fellow at Princeton University working with Simon Levin and Iain Couzin. He received his PhD at the University of Florida, where he was  co-advised in Biology (by Jamie Gillooly) and Mathematics (by Scott McKinley). Contact: andrew.m.hein [at] gmail {dot} com.

Postdoctoral researchers/ Project scientists/Technicians

Mimi Celis (Data Scientist): Mimi is an applied mathematician (PhD from Rice)  specializing in computational optimization. She works on applying machine learning and computational modeling to problems in animal behavior and ecology.

Vamsi Sridharan (Project Scientist): Vamsi earned his PhD in engineering from Stanford. He studies the interface between physics of fluid flow and fish behavior, ecology, and migration (Vamsi’s website).

Simone Olivetti (Postdoctoral Scientist): Simone is a computational fluid dynamicist with a broad skill set in fluid dynamics, data visualization, and software development. He is interested in fusing AI tools with behavioral experiments to understand how animals control movement behaviors in nature.

Ashkaan Fahimipour (Project Scientist): Ashkaan is a an ecologist with a background in both theory and experiments. He is interested in species interactions, ecosystem dynamics, and generally all things ecological.

Benjamin Burford (Postdoctoral Scientist): Ben recently completed his PhD at Stanford, where he studied the ecology and social behavior of cephalopods. He is interested in the intersection between collective behavior and ecology. 

Graduate and undergraduate students

Sam Nelson (undergraduate researcher): Sam is a data science major at Berkeley. He is working with us on computer vision and machine learning for behavioral inference.

Prospective students/postdocs

If you are interested in joining our group as a graduate or undergraduate student, please contact Andrew (andrew.m.hein [at] gmail {dot} com).


Mike Gil (Postdoctoral Scientist): Mike earned his PhD in Biology from the University of Florida and, before joining us, held an NSF-funded postdoctoral fellowship in Andy Sih’s group at UC Davis. Mike works on cutting-edge science at the interface of ecology, animal behavior, and conservation(Mike’s website). Mike is a new Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Ben Pritikin (undergrad researcher): Ben is an Earth and Planetary Sciences major at UC Santa Cruz. He worked with us on machine learning methods for data collection and inferring behavioral control rules.

Gurleen Brar (undergrad researcher, technician): Gurleen graduated in Human Biology at UCSC in 2019. She worked with us on escape decision-making and navigation projects. She now applies her scientific skills in the biotech industry.

Natnael Hamda (Postdoc, Project Scientist)Natnael worked with us on Machine Learning and AI applications. He is now a data scientist in the private sector.

Scott Nguyen (undergrad researcher): Scott is an undergraduate Neuroscience major at UCSC. He worked with us on escape decision-making and underwater computer vision.