PhD students



I’m co-supervised by Dr Karen Spencer in Psychology & Neuroscience and Dr Sue Healy in Biology. I’m interested in the genetic and molecular mechanisms that underlie phenotypic traits, such as cognitive abilities. My project is investigating how stress exposure at different life stages interact to affect long-term neuroendocrine and immune function as well as cognitive decline. I’m using both japanese quail and chickens as my model organisms. I’m funded by the Eastbio BBSRC Doctoral Training Programme. E-mail: djw23(AT)


I am interested in cognition and animal behaviour and for my PhD I will be researching nest building in zebra finches. I will be looking at how they adapt their nests in response to changes in the climate, and the regions of the brain that are involved in nest construction and adaptation. I am co-supervised by Simone Meddle at the Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh and am funded by the Eastbio BBSRC Doctoral Training Programme.  Email: se30(AT)


Alexi’s broad research interests fall under the general heading of animal behavior. During her PhD she studied social learning in nest-construction behavior in birds. She focused her research on which physical properties (e.g., rigidity, size and/or length) birds may learn about nesting materials from observing others build. E-mail: ab297(AT)


Georgina-GlaserHer main interests during her PhD were animal behaviour and cognition. Her research focused on the effects of context on decision-making, and whether it causes animals to make irrational decisions. She studied both rufous hummingbirds and parasitic wasps. E-mail: glg2(AT)


IMG_1220Nora’s work was based on how birds in the Paridae family encode information about predator threat in their mobbing calls, and how different species within bird communities use this information. This particularly focused on British tits found in Scotland. E-mail: nc54(AT)



Dr David Pritchard

DavidDavid’s research focused on how animals use spatial cues to remember important locations. He worked with wild rufous hummingbirds in the Canadian Rockies, using field experiments and video tracking to examine how they use information available to them to return to the locations of previously visited flowers.  E-mail: djp4(AT)


Dr Maria Tello Ramos

Maria 2b

Maria’s PhD project was centered on comparing sex differences in spatial abilities in wild free-living hummingbirds while also testing whether these birds could learn a sequence while foraging.




Dr Zach Hall 

Zachinthefield2 Zach’s PhD focused on the regions in the brain  involved in nest construction behaviour in zebra finches and the evolutionary origins of nest design in birds.   He is now a postdoc in Vince Tropepe’s lab at the University of Toronto studying the function of newly-generated neurons in the adult zebrafish brain.        



Dr Rachael Marshall

Rachael’s PhD focused on the foraging decisions of wild rufous hummingbirds. In particular their ability to remember what food is where at what time.



Dr Felicity Muth


Felicity’s PhD focused on the role of cognition in the nest building behaviour of weaverbirds and zebra finches.





Dr Nuri Flores Abreu

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 10.56.34

Nuri’s Phd focused on three-dimensional spatial learning in hummingbirds.





Dr Guill McIvor

Dr Guill McIvor

During his PhD Guill research the nest-site selection decisions of crows.







Dr Laura Kelley

Laura Kelly

2006-2009: Laura’s PhD research investigated vocal mimicry in spotted bower birds.





Dr Olivia Haggis

Olivia Haggis

2006-2009: Olivia’s PhD focused on the behavioural neuroscience of decision making in zebra finches.





Dr Anjanette Harris

Anjie Harris_12005-2009: During her PhD Anjie investigated the influence of environmental enrichment on the spatial cognition of rats.





Dr Adel Heenan


2006-2010: Adel’s PhD focused on the settling behaviour of coral reef fishes and development of supplementary management tools.