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Dr. Ceyhun Eksin
Dr. Ceyhun Eksin’s research focuses on game theory — modeling the strategic decision-making of individuals when those decisions affect others’ well-being. | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

Dr. Ceyhun Eksin, assistant professor in the Wm Michael Barnes ’64 Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Texas A&M University, recently received the Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) titled “Evolutionary Games in Dynamic and Networked Environments for Modeling and Controlling Large-Scale Multi-agent Systems.”

The award highlights junior faculty whose research and vision catapult them to be leaders in their research areas in the future. Eksin said this recognition and associated funding will allow his research group to work on projects at the intersection of networks, game theory and controls for modeling and analyzing population dynamics in changing environments, such as public behavior during an epidemic.

Eksin, who is also an affiliated faculty member with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M, focuses his research on game theory — dealing with modeling the strategic decision-making of individuals when their decisions affect others’ well-being. He has applied game theory to primarily two areas: developing algorithms for mobile robots that communicate over wireless networks and designing behavior-driven epidemic models, where individuals’ actions affect the course of an infectious disease spreading in a population, and in turn, the disease spread affects the population’s response.

“After all, whether it would be teams of drones trying to orchestrate a move during Fourth of July celebrations or individuals deciding whether to attend a public event or not during the pandemic, the consequences of one’s actions depend on others’ actions, which overall affect the well-being of the entire team or population,” Eksin said.

Eksin’s CAREER award research will analyze tragedies of the commons — when individuals acting based on their self-interest cause depletion of resources in the absence of any incentives or coordination. Eksin seeks to study the effects of population behavior on commons, whether tragedies occur or not and when they can be averted under interactions between the individuals and with the environment.

“One interesting aspect of this work is that we identified a phenomenon, which we termed oscillating tragedies of the commons, together with colleagues from Georgia Tech and the University of Colorado, where the tragedies keep recurring,” Eksin said. “In this phenomenon, the resource — grasslands, water, safety from disease — comes near collapse because of selfish behavior. The collapse is avoided when cooperative behavior increases among the population under harsher conditions. But then, as the resources are replenished, the greedy behavior takes over, starting another potential environmental collapse.”

Along with the experiments, the NSF also encourages researchers to enhance their work with an educational component. Eksin’s group will use their research designs to develop online games and simulation environments that can be integrated into grade school education plans with the Spark! PK-12 Outreach program at Texas A&M.

Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station Affiliations

Eksin is affiliated with several Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station centers: the Energy institute, the Institute for Manufacturing Systems and the Texas A&M Institute of Data Science.