A bit about me

Hi everyone!  

My name is Matt. I'm a fourth-year PhD candidate in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology department at Princeton, working with Iain Couzin. I'm fascinated by how highly coordinated groups transmit information and make decisions, specifically regarding predators. I also study how group membership affects how the group behaves. I answer these questions by studying schooling fish in the lab. You can find more information about my work at my research website mattgrobis.com.

I care deeply about making science accessible to everyone, from non-scientists with a passing interest to researchers in different disciplines. As such, I started this blog. The Headbanging Behaviorist is a space where I combine my interests in science, activism, and metal music to bring together viewers from groups that might not frequently interact. I am also a director for Princeton Open Labs, a graduate student-run outreach group aimed at increasing interest in science in K-12 students, as well as the managing editor and a co-founder of Highwire Earth, an interdisciplinary blog on sustainable development. We’re always looking for eager science communicators and more perspectives on solutions to global problems, so please do get in touch if either sounds interesting.

My research involves daily use of the programming language R, which I've grown to love. However, as someone who began with no programming experience, it took many months for me to learn how to overcome the learning curve. As a result, I've begun a series of posts on getting started with R, aimed at giving you the skills you need to begin to teach yourself how to code.

I've had much help in my academic career so far, and I'm grateful to the advice I've been given over the years. This blog is one way I can pass that advice along. The Academia advice tab has blog posts with advice I've compiled over the years for undergrads through PhD students, from figuring out what research interests you, finding opportunities for fieldwork, and applying for grants. The bigger picture has more in-depth posts about topics such as female under-representation in the sciences or misconceptions about evolution. Explanations of research I find interesting go into the Article summaries tab, where I try to write in a way that non-scientists and scientists in different fields can see why the research is exciting. 

This blog also features plenty of metal music. Metal is often given an unnecessarily bad rap. Throwing yourself into a mosh pit of tattooed people wearing all black might not make sense to an outsider... but it's a rush similar to martial arts or rock climbing without a harness. As an avid drummer, I'm a big fan of progressive metal, which combines the energy and intensity of metal with the rhythmic complexity of prog rock. Check out the Metal archives to see for yourself what, exactly, is awesome about progressive metal and its drumming.

There's only so much I can say about research or a song I find interesting, so I do my best to get the authors' or artists' input on the topics I write about. I'm always open for new perspectives, so please e-mail me if you'd like to share something that you're excited about in your field.

Lastly, success in academia is never independent. I've been very lucky throughout my life to have the help of many people, including but not limited to Mike Grobis, Lisa Cabral, Eileen Orzoff, Craig Bomgaars, John Cheeseman, Alison Bell, Kate Laskowski, Laura Stein, Simon Pearish, Susan Letcher, Jennie Miller, Niels Dingemanse, Princeton EEB, and my parents. I am always willing to try to help you succeed in what makes you happy, as many others have done the same for me (often before I even understood that I should be thanking them). As such, I will always do my best to answer any questions about academia that this blog might attract. You can reach me at [my first name].[my last name]@gmail.com.

Some relevant links:
- YouTube drum channel: mgrobis
- twitter (mainly retweets of others' interesting research): mgrobis
- LinkedIn profile, which includes my CV
Disclaimer: All opinions expressed in this blog are my own and do not reflect the views of the Fulbright program, U.S. Department of State, Max Planck Institute, or Princeton University.

Image credit: Karl Robertson, National Geographic

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