I am a primatologist, broadly interested in studies of behavioural ecology in humans and non-human primates. My main research interests are in social behaviour, traditions, and culture. In particular, I am interested in how social aspects of behaviour impacts the spread of behavioural variants in primates. My research has included studies with children, monkeys and apes (see Research for more details).
NEWS AND EVENTS:
I'm delighted to have been invited to attend a Wenner-Gren funded Symposium on Children and Innovation in Brisbane this month. For more details of the meeting and to find out more about the wonderful group of researchers in attendance, check out the Symposium website.
This month I'm looking forward to beginning data collection for the EvoLearn project in Austin working with the Extend-a-Care program (EAC) with school children in Austin. EAC is a child care facility providing a variety of indoor and outdoor activities for children aged from 6 weeks to 12 years for after school and summer programs.
I'm pleased to share the published work of Kirsten Blakey and Erin Mason showing young children donate selectively based on recipient characteristics that I supervised for their undergraduate dissertations. You can find the paper here.
At the end of the month, I will be part of the Examining the Development of Conformity Across Diverse Social Contexts Symposium at the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) Biennial Meeting in Baltimore to present a talk entitled, Young children’s donating behaviour is influenced by viewing generous - but not egalitarian – majorities.
This month, I'm excited to have been elected as a member of the Royal Society of Biology. I'm looking forward to being part of the wider Bioscience community.
Early this month, I'll be going to Namibia for a second round of fieldwork to meet with our collaborators on the EVO-Learn project this time working with Ju|'hoansi in the Nyae Nyae region of Namibia.
At the end of this month I'll be heading out to Vanuatu to start my first round of fieldwork on the EVO-Learn project investigating social learning and teaching in cross cultural populations. I'm excited to spend two and half months working with Ni-Van's on Tanna.
We are starting to pilot new tasks for the EVO-Learn project working with young people as they visit the Thinkery, an excellent science museum and great place to do testing with children.
After a bit of a delay with the winter weather to the UK, I've made it to Austin, Texas to start my new post-doctoral position. I'm excited to work with Cristine Legare, Oskar Burger, Sarah Pope, and Bruce Rawlings on this project.
Later on this month, I'll be flying out to Austin, Texas to meet up with the rest of the team for the first workshop discussing the new EVO-Learn project as part of my postdoctoral position I'll be starting in March.
I'm really excited to announce I'll be starting a new postdoc in Cristine Legare's Evolution, Variation, and Ontogeny of Learning (EVO-Learn) Laboratory in Austin, Texas working on a NSF funded project investigating the development of teaching and social learning across cross cultural societies.
I'm happy to announce that our (with Dr Mark Bowler) book chapter on Anoinitng has been published in the Springer's new Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behaviour, see publications tab for more information.
I'm looking forward to starting data collection in St Serf's primary school in Alloa this month investigating executive functions in young children working with the Educational Psychologist team at Clackmannanshire Council and Paul Gardener at the University of St Andrews.
This month I will be assisting the Big Brian Box in the School of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of St Andrews at their Science Foundation Day where secondary pupils visit the school to learn more about psychology and neuroscience and how to keep their brains healthy.
It's the time of year again for the Explorathon 2017. This year I'll be helping out on with the Big Brian Box, talking all about brains, the different regions and their functions and how to keep our brains healthy. Come along to MUSA (the Museum of the University of St Andrews) on Friday the 29th of September 2017 from 5pm-10pm to find out more!
I'll be teaching in the Department of Psychology at Heriot-Watt University during first semester of the next academic year (2017-2018) on Social Influences in Early Childhood. I'm looking forward to meeting the new fourth years on the course and discussing more on child development.
During the school summer holidays, I'm happy to be working with Active School's Fife in some of their holiday clubs to continue some data collection with young children investigating prosociality over the holidays. A great team of Coordinators and Sports Ambassadors.
I'm pleased to say that the work that Nicola McGuigan and I did for the Science Fun Day we held at Edinburgh Zoo and Kirkcaldy High School has won one a award as part of the Principal's Public Engagement Awards 2017.
This month, Nicola McGuigan and I received some great news that we have been short listed for the Principal's Public Engagement Prize at Heriot-Watt University. Voting is open all month for all staff and students at Heriot-Watt.
I'm looking forward to working with Dr Gayle Doherty, Dr Maggie Ellis and Paul Gardener from the University of St Andrews on a Wellcome Trust ISSf funded project, the Brain Box. Watch this space for some more details about these resources in the coming months.
Dr Eoin O'Sullivan from Stirling University and myself were invited by the National Museum of Scotland to provide a talk to members of the public at the Monkey Business Museum Late event on Friday the 10th of March. We provided a talk entitled, Are you smarter than a monkey? along with a demonstration and discussion of some of the studies with have done with human and non-human primates on primate behaviour.
On the 23rd of Feb, I had the opportunity to present to young people on what makes us Uniquely Human as part of God and the Big Bang discussing science and religion at the stunning Bristol Cathedral.
On the 19th of January at Kirkcaldy High School and the 25th of January at Edinburgh Zoo we hosted two Science Fun Day's for the school children who have previously been involved in our studies investigating prosociality. The workshop's showcased animal and human behaviour and the children had the opportunity to engage in several interactive sessions helped out by students from Heriot-Watt university and Kirkcaldy High School (see science communication tab for more info).
I'm very pleased to say that we have been successful in obtaining a grant from the Annual Fund Committee at Heriot-Watt University to assist with our Science Fun Day Workshop in January 2017.
On the 28th of November, we finished data collection in primary schools in Fife for our last experiment investigating the social influences of prosociality in young children. Thanks to all the children, parents and teachers for the participation in our studies over the last two years. Watch this space for the upcoming results out in print!
Our new paper (with Dr's Emma Tecwyn, Steph Denison, and Daphna Buchsbaum) on capuchin monkey's probabilistic inferences abilities has been accepted for publication in Animal Cognition (see publications for more details and a final PDF very soon).
Thanks to the Templeton Foundation and Dr Michaela Gummerum from Plymouth University for inviting us, I have been presenting some of our results on the social and non-social influences on young children's donating behvaiour as part of the The Developmental of Prosocial Behaviour: Context, Culture, Emotions Symposium at the British Psychological Society (BPS) Developmental Section Annual Conference at the Hilton Belfast, Northern Ireland this month.
Great to be invited by Professor Christine Caldwell to present at the Developmental Approaches to Understanding Human Social Learning symposium at International Society for Human Ethology’s (ISHE) XXIII Biennial Congress on Human Ethology at Stirling University this month.
At the end of June/beginning of July, I am presenting the first of our findings into the social and non-social influences on prosociality in young children at the 28th Annual Meeting of the Human Behaviour and Evolution Society in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
A big thank you to all the teachers, parents/guardians and children from Pathhead Primary School, Kirkcaldy; Sinclairtown Primary School; Kirkcaldy; Dysart Primary School, Kirkcaldy; Nethercurrie Primary School, Edinburgh; and Longstone Rainbows in Edinburgh for all their help with my recent study into sharing behaviour.
This month, Nicola McGuigan and I will be showcasing some of our experimental apparatus we use with children, monkeys and apes to explain comparative psychology at the Fife Science Festival in Glenrothes.
We enjoyed celebrating 20 years of having the Scottish Primate Research Group (SPRG) annual meeting at Goodenough College, The Burn over the 4-6th of March 2016. With great talks from the founding members of SPRG (Liz Rogers, Dick Byrne, Bill McGrew, and Andy Whiten) and students from universities across the UK, discussing their work with primates.
On the 10th of February at 5:30pm I have invited to speak at the Behaviour and Evolution Research Group at the University of Stirling. I will be giving an oral presentation entitled, "I've got your back" Social Anointing in capuchin monkeys.