Mari Kawakatsu

Mari Kawakatsu

JSMF Postdoctoral Fellow

Department of Biology, University of Pennsylvania


Thank you for visiting my website. I am a James S. McDonnell Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Biology at the University of Pennsylvania and an affiliate of the Penn Center for Mathematical Biology. My postdoctoral mentor is Joshua Plotkin.

I recently obtained my PhD in Applied and Computational Mathematics from Princeton University, where I was advised by Simon Levin, Naomi Leonard, and Corina Tarnita. Prior to that, I completed my undergraduate studies in Physics and Sociology at Yale University.

I study social evolution and self-organization in collective systems. I am especially interested in understanding how inter-individual differences and population structures influence and are influenced by collective dynamics. As a mathematical biologist and an applied mathematician, I use tools from evolutionary game theory, dynamical systems, and network science. My recent work has explored topics including

  • self-organized division of labor in ant colonies;
  • emergent hierarchies in adaptive networks;
  • cooperation and polarization in group-structured populations; and
  • role of stereotype use in indirect reciprocity.

As a teacher and mentor, I strive to create inclusive learning environments in undergraduate classrooms and beyond. At Princeton, I served as a Graduate Teaching Fellow at the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning and as a Resident Graduate Student in First College (now New College West), one of the undergraduate residential colleges.

Since 2021, I have served as the Communications Secretary for the Women in Network Science (WiNS) Society, which aims to foster opportunities for the education, employment, and career advancement of women, trans, and non-binary scholars in network science. To learn more about our activities, please follow us on Twitter and check out our website.

A short CV is available here and a full CV is available here.

Please feel free to contact me at marikawa [at] sas [dot] upenn [dot] edu.


May 2023: I will be attending the SIAM Conference on Applications of Dynamical Systems (DS23) in Portland, OR. Alice Schwarze, Heather Zinn Brooks, and I are hosting a minisymposium titled “Women in Network Science” on Sunday, May 14th.

March 2023: I will be attending the Postdocs in Complexity Conference X at the Santa Fe Institute.

March 2023: I will be attending the American Mathematical Society (AMS) 2023 Spring Southeastern Sectional Meeting at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

January 2023: I will be attending the Winter Workshop on Complex Systems (WWCS) 2023, hosted at the University of Amsterdam (UvA).

October 2022: I attended the Postdocs in Complexity Conference IX at the Santa Fe Institute.

September 2022: I attended the Building Networks: Women in Complex & Nonlinear Systems workshop at the Banff International Research Station (BIRS).

July 2022: I gave a virtual talk at the SIAM Conference on the Life Sciences (LS22).

June 2022: I gave a virtual seminar at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in the Sciences and Humanities at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

April 2022: I gave a virtual talk as part of the Complex/Dynamical Systems Seminar in the Department of Applied Mathematics at the University of Colorado Boulder.

April 2022: I attended the Postdocs in Complexity Conference VIII at the Santa Fe Institute.

March 2022: I gave a virtual talk at the AMS Spring Eastern Sectional Meeting.

January 2022: “Tuning cooperative behavior in games with nonlinear opinion dynamics” led by Shinkyu Park and co-authored with Anastasia Bizyaeva, Alessio Franci, Naomi Leonard is now published in IEEE Control Systems Letters!

December 2021: “Interindividual cooperation mediated by partisanship complicates Madison’s cure for ‘mischiefs of faction’” with Yphtach Lelkes, Simon Levin, and Corina Tarnita is now published in PNAS!

December 2021: I gave a virtual talk at Canadian Mathematical Society (CMS) Winter Meeting.

August 2021: Phil Chodrow, Nicole Eikmeier, Dan Larremore and I published an article in SIAM News. Check it out!

March 2021: I am serving as the Communications Secretary for the Women in Network Science (WiNS) Society for 2021–2022. Follow us on Twitter, and please feel free to reach out to me with any questions about WiNS!