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Stephen Pratt

Stephen Pratt

Associate Professor, School of Life Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


School of Life Sciences
Arizona State University
PO Box 874501
Tempe, AZ 85287-4501


  • Senior Global Futures Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory
  • Associate Professor, School of Life Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Affiliated Faculty, Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation


Stephen Pratt studies the emergence of complex social behavior in leaderless and decentralized groups, particularly social insect colonies. He and his students use experiments and mathematical models to understand the behavioral rules and communication networks that allow colonies to act as a collective intelligence.

Inspired by the analogy between individual organisms and colonial superorganisms, they apply many ideas from psychology to understand group cognition. Pratt also works with engineers to translate lessons from social animals to human-designed systems, and to develop innovative tools for the analysis of behavior.


  • PhD, Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University, 1997
  • BA (magna cum laude), Biology, Harvard University, 1988

Journal Articles


Overson, R., J. Gadau, R. M. Clark, S. C. Pratt and J. H. Fewell. 2014. Behavioral transitions with the evolution of cooperative nest founding by harvester ant queens. Behavioral ecology and Sociobiology 68(1):21-30. DOI: 10.1007/s00265-013-1618-2. (link )

Wilson, S., T. P. Pavlic, G. P. Kumar, A. Buffin, S. C. Pratt and S. Berman. 2014. Design of ant-inspired stochastic control policies for collective transport by robotic swarms. Swarm Intelligence 8(4):303-327. DOI: 10.1007/s11721-014-0100-8. (link )

Book Chapters


Pavlic, T. P. and S. C. Pratt. 2013. Superorganismic behavior via human computation. Pp. 911-960 In: Michelucci, P. ed., Handbook of Human Computation. Springer. DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4614-8806-4_74. ISBN: 978-1-4614-8805-7. (link )



Pavlic, T. P. and S. C. Pratt. 2014. Numerical methods within the ant colony: The illuminating case of multi-objective macronutrient regulation in eusocial insects. Presentation at the 2nd Workshop on Biological Distributed Algorithms (BDA 2014), 11-12 October 2014, Austin, TX. (link )

Pavlic, T. P. and S. C. Pratt. 2014. Understanding foraging patterns that achieve colony-level macronutrient regulation. Presentation at the International Union for the Study of Social Insects International Congress, 13-18 July 2014, Queensland, Australia. (link )

Conference Papers


Kumar, G. P., A. Buffin, T. P. Pavlic, S. C. Pratt and S. M. Berman. 2013. A stochastic hybrid system model of collective transport in the desert ant Aphaenogaster cockerelli. Pp. 119-124 HSCC '13 Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Hybrid Systems: Computation and Control. HSCC '13. New York, NY. (link )