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Welcome to McMaster’s Canada 150 Research Chair

Jonathan Pruitt photo

The Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour welcomes Jonathan Pruitt, McMaster’s Canada 150 Research Chair in Biological Dystopias. Pruitt, an internationally recognized evolutionary ecologist, will be joining McMaster University on July 1 as a member of our Department. He comes to McMaster from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The Canada 150 Research Chair program is designed to help Canadian universities attract the world’s top researchers and scholars to Canada. In total, 24 Canada 150 Research Chairs were appointed across Canada. Pruitt’s appointment was announced by the Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, Kirsty Duncan at a ceremony in Ottawa in March.

His research program focuses on how the collective traits of different animal societies – including those of ants, wasps and spiders – affect their survival. “My research explores what it takes for animal societies to succeed and why it is that so many societies wither and die,” says Pruitt who creates experimental social groups made up of contrasting organizations, compositions, architectures and collective attributes, and then subjects them to a range of ecological challenges.

He monitors their performance to observe what traits enable some societies to proliferate and take over a landscape, and what doesn’t. Working with McMaster researchers, he plans to expand his studies of societal collapse in invertebrates to studies on vertebrate social groups, including humans. Maureen MacDonald, Dean of the Faculty of Science, says Pruitt’s work will have a significant impact in the field of animal behaviour and will build on the Faculty’s already defined strengths in this area. “Jonathan is recognized as an international leader in his field and his work complements so much of the leading-edge work coming out of the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour,” she said. “We’re excited for him to bring his robust research program to McMaster, develop interdisciplinary research initiatives with colleagues across the Faculty and University, and expand the scope of our animal and human behaviour research.”

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