Conference – ISIZ

Sue, Lauren, and former lab member Maria Tello-Ramos attended the 9th International Symposium of Integrative Zoology (ISIZ) in Xining, China. Sue gave a plenary talk on ‘Animal cognition in 2017’, co-chaired an animal cognition talks session, and gave another talk on the role for cognition in nest building by birds. Lauren presented her work on social learning in nest-building zebra finches, and Maria gave a presentation titled ‘Hummingbirds travelling through space and time’.

Conference – Behaviour 2017

David oozing coolness at Behaviour 2017

The Healy lab descended in full force on the Behaviour 2017 conference (perhaps partially because it was held in sunny Portugal, see image at end).

Sue certainly had a full programme. Not only was there a book launch for Avian Cognition, edited by Sue and Carel ten Cate (available here), but Sue also participated in the ‘meet the editors’ session (as chief-editor of Animal Behaviour), chaired one of the Animal Cognition talks sessions, and then delivered a talk on variation in hummingbird cognitive abilities, as well as a plenary on “Bringing Tinbergen to a neglected behaviour: nest building by birds”. Between all of this I am told that she did have an afternoon free to lay by the pool.

David gave a talk on visual navigation in hummingbirds, and Nora presented her work on recognition of novel predators in tits. Finally, Lauren also gave a talk on immediate early gene expression and social learning in zebra finches.

Sue delivering her plenary talk on “Bringing Tinbergen to a neglected behaviour: nest building by birds”

Sue giving her talk on variation in hummingbird cognitive abilities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lauren making friends

 

 

 

David gave a talk on visual navigation in hummingbirds

Nora presented her work on British tits

 

Not a bad location for a conference

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

Conference – Scottish Ecology, Environment and Conservation Conference

The Scottish Ecology, Environment and Conservation Conference was held in Aberdeen this year, and included talks across a range of topics from PhD and Master’s students. As the name suggests, talks were related to ecology and the environment and conservation, but there was a big emphasis from the keynote speakers on how students could use their science to inform and drive policy, peaking with a panel discussion on “‘Applying ecological science to conservation policy”. Georgina attended and presented her work on the effects of food quality on foraging decisions in rufous hummingbirds (I know, not a species native to Scotland), and was commended on her talk! There are not, unfortunately, any pictures from the conference, but here is a picture of a hummingbird to make up for it.

 

Outreach – Cafe Scientifique

Lauren embarked on a journey to the Cumbrian town of Cockermouth to give a talk for Cafe Scientifique. If you haven’t heard of Cafe Sci before it is essentially a very casual coming together of people, often in a pub and not necessarily with a scientific background, to hear a talk about science or technology.

Lauren’s topic for her talk was ‘Are Animals Smart?’, where she shared her research with around 50 attendees and discussed with them what makes an animal smart and how to test it. You can read a bit more about it on the Cafe Sci website, or on Lauren’s website.

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

Conference – ISAE

The International Soceity of Avian Endocrinology (ISAE) held its quadrennial conference from October 11-14th this year at Niagara-on-the-lake in Ontario, Canada. ISAE takes place every four years in a rotation system between Asia, Europe, and America, and is dedicated to showcase up-to-date advancements in the field of avian endocrinology, while bringing together scientists from all over the world. With a combination of plenary lectures, symposia, and poster sessions, ISAE2016 creates a fantastic opportunity for scientists to meet and exchange information on a wide range of avian species.

David, supervised by Dr Karen Spencer and Dr Sue Healy, delivered a 15 minute oral presentation of his work describing how early-life stress induces long-term effects on systems regulating stress and immune responses within the central nervous system of female Japanese quail (Corturnix japonica). David came away from the conference with the first prize for best student presentation, well done David!

certificate

Outreach – Explorathon 2016

The Healy lab came out in full force for Explorathon 2016, an event based on discovery which aims to engage and entertain the public. This year Explorathon celebrated European Researchers’ Night by holding events all over Scotland, including in St Andrews. These events brought together researchers and the public through a series of informative and fun activities, which members of the Healy lab were proud to be part of:

The XX Factor:

gtalk noratalknorawinNora and Georgina joined in The XX Factor, where female researchers talk about their work, but just as importantly how they got to where they are today. With the aim to inspire others, the event held a competitive edge but it was Nora who took home the prize for most inspirational researcher, so a huge well done to her!

 

Research in Action!:

nestsmallnest2

It’s the return of the nest building stall! With help from Lauren, Eira, Nora, Georgina, and Tayanne Corbani, members of the public were invited to have a go at building a nest. Not only that, but the nest had to be solid enough to hold a chocolate egg, which the builder could keep at the end.

 

Level Up Human:

suetalk

Finally, Sue partook in the event ‘Level Up Human‘ where a panel tries to decide how best to improve humans, be it through the ability to talk to animals, breathe fire, or be able to download dreams.

Outreach – Scottish Ornithologists’ Club

website

The Scottish Ornithologists’ Club gave a warm welcome to Sophie at an evening event in St Andrews inviting PhD students to talk about their research. Sophie spoke about nest building and about whether temperature affects the nest that a bird builds. The talks were followed by a reception where Sophie could chat to the attendees further, some of whom have since stayed in email contact. Great work Sophie!

Conference – ISBE

Dave Shuker joining Nora, Georgina, and Sue for a lab photo outside the conference venue

Nora, Georgina, and Sue all attended the International Society for Behavioral Ecology conference held in Exeter. This conference marked the 30th anniversary since the founding of ISBE, and as a result attendees were able to purchase special anniversary t-shirts, as shown below.

Nora modelling one of the ISBE anniversary t-shirts

At the conference, Nora gave a talk about information encoding strategies in UK tit species, whilst in the poster session Georgina presented her work on whether rufous hummingbirds make “irrational” decisions. Finally, Sue also joined in by chairing a session on cognitive processes. A productive conference all round!

Georgina presenting her poster on decision-making in hummingbirds