Orit Peleg Portrait
Associate Professor - Computer Science

Office • JSCBB D317

Research Interests

Orit Peleg seeks to understand the behavior of disordered living systems by merging tools from physics, biology, engineering, and computer science. Peleg draws from a multidisciplinary background; she received a B.S. in physics and computer science and an M.S. in physics from Bar-Ilan University in Israel. She completed her Ph.D. in material science at ETH Zurich, where she began modeling competitive interactions in biophysical systems. Dr. Peleg used computational techniques to study a wide range of protein interactions, from fibronectin chains and fibers to the dynamic behavior of actin filaments. During postdoctoral work at Harvard University, Dr. Peleg became invested in a broad range of biophysics research. She began investigating order and disorder in protein evolution, which progressed to an interest in the organization of insect swarms. Dr. Peleg pursues a dynamic line of inquiry, leveraging tools from one discipline to answer questions in another.

Dr. Peleg currently focuses on how organisms adapt to environmental fluctuations. A major area of her research concerns honeybee clusters as she dissects how bees create a stable structure in the presence of mechanical stress. She also investigates signaling between animals, specifically the methods animals employ to amplify and interpret signals across large space and time scales. To solve this problem, Dr. Peleg uses honeybees, plants, and fireflies as model organisms. In addition, Dr. Peleg models movement ecology to demonstrate how animals translocate food over long distances. This behavior requires interplay between navigation and assessment of the environment to establish the optimal path in terms of accuracy, speed, and effort. Through several diverse projects, Dr. Peleg harnesses the power of computational tools to answer fundamental questions in biology and ecology.

Dr. Peleg was recruited to the BioFrontiers Institute in 2017 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science. Her interdisciplinary research program will open doors for collaboration across multiple departments. Dr. Peleg pursues an exciting and unique interface between ecological studies and computational models. She has presented her work at numerous scientific meetings, including the Annual Meeting of the International Physics of Living Systems Network and the Janelia Research Campus Insect Navigation Workshop in 2016. Her research has also been featured on the cover of Biophysical Journal and the Journal of Biological Chemistry. The BioFrontiers institute will benefit greatly from Dr. Peleg’s innovative approach to computational biology.