Conference – Conference on Comparative Cognition

Perhaps better known as CO3, the Conference on Comparative Cognition as always was held in Florida. Sue, Alexis, and Lauren were the lucky ones that attended, with a four day long stint of basking in the sun, listening to talks, and even getting involved in the March for Science at the Space Coast.

March for Science, Space Coast edition

But the team didn’t just attend as spectators. Alexis gave a five minute talk on how the social environment in the early life of zebra finches affects nest building behaviour and won the Ron Weisman Memorial Outstanding Student Presentation. Great work Alexis!

Alexis during her winning talk

Lauren gave a talk on social learning and the brain, and also hosted a mentor session where established experts in comparative cognition, like Sue, spoke to students about various aspects of research including leading teams, balancing work with other priorities, and obtaining grants. Sue then also gave a talk on how rufous hummingbirds adjust their foraging routes when the quality of sucrose solution along their route is changed.

Lauren talking about social learning

Sue giving her talk

Big Garden Birdwatch

On the last weekend of January Alexis, David, Eira, Lauren and Shoko from the Rutz Lab donned their citizen science caps and joined the hundreds of thousands of people up and down the country who took part in the Big Garden Birdwatch. Saturday in St Andrews was very dreich indeed and most birds on Hallow Hill and St Mary’s Quadrangle on the campus stayed hidden, perhaps passing the time in their jammies with a nice cup of piping hot tea. When the sun came out on Sunday Lauren’s garden, where birds are well catered for with a number of feeders, soared to the top of the chart with 17 species observed in one hour.

Alexis and Eira enjoying the weather

Conference – Postgraduate Conference

Several members of the Healy lab attended the University of St Andrews’ annual biology postgraduate conference, with different roles for each. Georgina gave a presentation on the foraging preferences of rufous hummingbirds (and won first prize for best talk), Alexis presented a poster on the effects of early-life experience and social environment on material choice in zebra finches, and Lauren chaired one of the presentation sessions. This year, the postgraduate conference also had a careers event, which Georgina helped to organise, aimed at PhD students and Postdocs to highlight the career paths available to them. So far, the feedback has been extremely positive, and it looks like it will be coming back again next year. Hurrah!

Georgina proudly holding her presentation prize

Well done Nora – 3rd best talk

nora prize

Nora receiving her prize from Jessica van der Wal, another conference organiser

Congratulations to Nora who won 3rd prize for best talk at the third European Student Conference on Behaviour and Cognition, which was hosted in St Andrews this year and organised by four PhD students, including Georgina and Alexis. Nora’s prize was ‘Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?” by Frans de Waal. Well done Nora!