Raghavendra Gadagkar, Ph.D. (Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, 1979), studies Animal Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution and is especially interested in the origin and evolution of social life in animals. Gadagkar is now DST Year of Science Chair Professor at the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science and Non-Resident Permanent Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. He has published over 350 research papers, articles and three books, Survival Strategies (Harvard University Press, 1997) , The Social Biology of Ropalidia (Harvard University Press, 2001) and How to Design Experiments in Animal Behaviour (forthcoming from the Indian Academy of Sciences, March 2021). He has been recognized by several awards including the Shanthi Swarup Bhatnagar Prize, the Third World Academy of Sciences award in Biology and the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. He is a fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, the Indian National Science Academy, the National Academy of Sciences, India, The World Academy of Sciences, Leopoldina, The German National Science Academy, and Foreign Honorary Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has served as a member of several committees including the Scientific Advisory Committee to the Cabinet, Government of India.

Research Interests

I am fascinated by the phenomena of cooperation and altruism in animals, especially in social insects such as ants, bees and wasps. I have chosen the primitively eusocial wasp Ropalidia marginata that occurs abundantly in southern India to investigate these phenomena. Many years of research, in collaboration with a number of very gifted students, has uncovered many novel features of the social organisation of these wasps such as behavioural caste differentiation, pre-imaginal caste bias and the role of ecology in the evolution of social life. Our current interest is captured by the ability of the wasps to tread a fine balance between cooperation and conflict. The wasps in a colony are very similar to each other so that almost anyone can assume the role of a fertile queen or of a non-reproductive worker. While the reigning queen maintains her reproductive monopoly by means of pheromones, the workers self-organize their activities without the need for top-down control. When the queen dies, she is replaced by one of the workers in a remarkably conflict-free manner. Although we cannot predict the identity of the successor before-hand, the wasps seem to know their next queen as they organize themselves in a pre-arranged reproductive queue.

Membership Type

International Member

Election Year


Primary Section

Section 27: Evolutionary Biology

Secondary Section

Section 63: Environmental Sciences and Ecology