Sunflowers in the market, Krakow

PhD Student



Who am I?

I was born in Chennai, India. I did my BSc in Physics from Delhi University. I later joined an Erasmus Mundus programme through which I graduated from Ghent University, Belgium with an MSc in Nuclear Fusion and Engineering Physics. While doing my numerical projects related to computational physics, and out of curiosity, I read about nonlinear dynamics, evolutionary dynamics, game theory and so on that are used in theoretical biology. This way, I was attracted to the field of evolutionary biology. I am mainly interested in developing models for social evolution, life-history evolution etc. I am doing my PhD in Dr. Chaitanya S. Gokhale’s Research Group for Theoretical Models in Eco-Evolutionary dynamics. Currently I am working on two projects, namely, multiple game dynamics and investigating the relationship between parental investment and immune response.

Research interests

Interactions are at the center of evolutionary processes. One of the tools to study interactions between biological entities is that of evolutionary game theory. In reality, it is clear that individuals engage in a number of interactions (or games) and the fitness is a cumulative function of these multiple interactions. My work is based on such multiple interactions. The impact of the multiple games (or interactions) on the fitness and in turn on the evolutionary dynamics is thus unfocused as several players play several games during the same instant. Currently, I am applying this idea to a life-history question. Data from several species species with varying levels of female or male pregnancy, show that increase in parental investment brings a rise in immunocompetence i.e. the sex that does more parental investment/pregnancy has better immunity as compared to the other. Developing theoretical models informed by experimental data, we seek to understand in what circumstances can an increase in parental investment also lead to a rise in immunocompetence.


  • Theoretical ecology and evolution
  • Evolutionary game theory
  • Multiplayer games
  • Multiple games
  • Social and life-history evolution models


Vandana Revathi Venkateswaran and Chaitanya S. Gokhale (2018). Evolutionary dynamics of multiple games. Manuscript under revision.

S. Holmes, V. R. Venkateswaran et al (2019). A quantitative approach to contact improvisation dance. Manuscript submitted.

Vandana Revathi Venkateswaran, Olivia Roth and Chaitanya S. Gokhale (2018). Sexual dimorphism in immunity in relation to parental investment and mating competitions. Manuscript under preparation.

Conferences, workshops and talks


  • Selected to present a talk at the German Physics Society Conference’s Evolutionary Game Theory session (April, 2019).
  • Shall be giving a presentation at the ‘Evolution of Interacting Populations’ workshop at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Germany (September, 2019).


  • Participant of the Santa Fe Institute’s Complex Systems Summer School (10th June - 6th July at Santa Fe, NM, USA).
  • Attended and presented a poster at the Münster Evoution Meeting 2018 held at Münster.


  • Presented a poster on my first PhD project titled ‘Evolutionary dynamics of unfocused games’ at the Kiel Life Science Conference in October 2016 and at the German Physics Conference (DPG Conference) in March 2017.
  • Was awarded a travel grant by IAST, Toulouse to attend the Toulouse Economics and Biology Workshop in June 2017 at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAST), Toulouse, France.
  • Obtained the International Max Planck Research School conference funding to participate in the Beg Rohu Summer School for Out of Equilibrium Dynamics, Evolution and Genetics organised by École normale supérieure, France.

Events organised

  • Organised the workshop “Talking Evolution” (at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Germany from 26th September to the 28th September, 2018) that focussed on discussing topics such as niche construction theory, extra-genetic inheritance, developmental bias, and phenotypic plasticity.
  • Organised (and presented a talk) at the Aquavit Symposium 2017 at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Plön.

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