Istvan Karsai


About me

I was born in Budapest, Hungary, and I spent my university years and early scientific career in Hungary. In 1987, I got my M.SC. in biology; in 1990, my PhD in community ecology at Jozsef Attila University, Szeged. Between 1991 and 1996 I worked at the Department of Evolutionary Zoology of Kossuth Lajos University of Debrecen, Hungary on a Hungarian Academy of Sciences Fellowship and a National Scientific grant. The Hungarian Academy of Sciences granted me the post-Ph.D. "C. SC." degree, and I became a member of the Public Body in the Neurobiology Study Section of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1997. During this period I intensively collaborated with scientists in Hungary, France, Belgium, and the USA in the fields of community ecology, evolution, ornithology, molecular biology, conservation biology, ethology, computer science, entomology, phylogeny, and physics. Since 1996, I have been working in the USA at Ohio State University, University of Missouri - St. Louis, and currently at the East Tennessee State University as an academic. Reference: 15th edition of Marquis Who's Who in the World (1998).

Areas of Competence



See News section for incoming students

Current and past students in my lab


Field of Current Research


My research is concerned with several levels of organization, from individuals of colonies to populations of colonies. Insect societies offer examples of biological systems in which the component parts (individuals) seem to be fairly simple, and there isn't any hierarchical control among the individuals. The whole colony performs complex, integrated behavior via self-organization processes. I would like to understand how colony organization emerges from simple behavioral rules and how colonies adjust effort to solve colony level tasks. These processes of task allocation require individual insects to make individual decisions based only on local information. The emergence of complex patterns from the interactions of the agents is an exciting and "hot" field in current science, and this interests me far beyond the scope of the problems related to insect societies. I have a strong theoretical biology background, but I also enjoy field and lab work, and believe that the combination of these can lead to very fruitful outcomes. See the News section for other projects and Research interest section for more details.