2014 - present research & policy officer, sense about science
My work is split between helping to produce public guides to combat common misconceptions about science and evidence, involving the synthesis of expert knowledge into a form for general consumption. The rest of my work focuses on the Evidence Matters Campaign, which seeks to improve the use of and transparency of evidence in public policy. Both roles are part of Sense About Science.
2013 - 2014 Research Editor, LARG
I am assisted Prof Tim Clutton-Brock in developing his book on animal societies. This work involved literature research into a wide range of topics from dispersal and the evolution of different mating systems to social learning and the development of human societies. This work was carried out at the Zoology department, University of Cambridge.
April 2014 Research Assistant, Rum Red Deer Project
I assisted Dr Corina Logan and Prof Tim Clutton-Brock with research investigating variation, trade-off and heritability of cranial capacity in red deer (Cervus elaphus). This work entailed collecting detailed cranial measurements from a large number of male and female deer skulls of varying ages. These skulls had been collected from a continuously observed wild population of red deer for the last 40 years.
2013 Research Assistant, Drongo Project
I have been assisting Dr. Thomas Flower in conducting field experiments on fork-tailed drongos (Dicrurus adsimilis). This research was investigating the tactics used by drongos during kleptoparasitism and deception. This work used a series of novel experiments to determine the learning mechanisms and tactics that drongos use when emiting false alarm calls. In addition, work was carried out to investigate the cost to pied babblers of drongo mimetic alarm calls and the use of multiple alarm calls.
2009 - 2013 PhD Student, University of Cape Town
I am conducting a PhD at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town. I am investigating adult-fledgling interactions in pied babblers (Turdoides bicolor). My specific interest is how the change in environment mediated via fledging, and the subsequent changes in costs and benefits, affects begging behaviour. I am also investigating other mechanisms of solicitation that may enable offspring to win the conflict over care with adults.
2009 Field assistant, Pied Babbler Project
I was a field assitant for Dr Matt Bell (University of Edinburgh) with experiments investigating communication between sentinel and foragers in the cooperatively breeding pied babbler (Turdoides bicolor). This research focused on investigating how sentinels and foragers negotiate over who will be on guard at any one point in time. The findings of the study were that the signalling system is dynamic and that contributions to cooperative behaviours are based on the likely future contribution of others.
2008 - 2009 Field assistant, Yellow-billed Hornbills
I assisted in the setting up of a PhD project investigating communication in the cavity nesting Yellow-billed Hornbill (Tockus leucomelas). In this species females seal themselves into a tree cavity, moult their flight and tail feathers, and remain inside until their young are fairly well developed. I assisted Michael Finnie (Cambridge University) with behavioural data collection, ringing and experimental manipulation in the first year of his PhD.
2007 - 2008 Research volunteer, Kalahari Meerkat Project
I spent a year working at the Kalahari Meerkat Project, run by Cambridge and Zurich Universities. The work involved continuing the long-term life-history, behavioural and wieght data on a habituated population of meerkats (Suricata suricatta). I was also put in charge of the long-term life history database and was responsible for monthly reports to both Cambridge and Zurich. I also assisted with experiments conducted by postdoctoral and doctoral researchers.
2004 - 2007 BA (Hons) Zoology, Cambridge University
I studied Natural Sciences at Girton College. I specialized in zoology in my final year, finding behavioural ecology the most interesting of the subjects. My thesis was conducted on the habitat use of the Chalkhill Blue butterfly (Polyommatus coridon), supervised by Dr Ed Turner.
Awards and Grants
Faculty of science phd medal 2014, university of cape town AWARDED for my thesis entitled "post-fledgling begging and development in southern pied babblers (Turdoides bicolour)"
joseph arenow prize 2014, university of cape town awarded at the DISCRETION of the dean of science for the most original phd thesis.
Small Ecological Project Grant, British Ecological Society, 2008 What factors affect fledgling helper dyads in pied babblers (Turdoides bicolour)?
Balfour-Brown Grant, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, 2006 Habitat preference, movement and behaviour of the Chalkhill Blue (Polyommatus coridon) at Totternhoe Quarry and surrounding reserves
Ellen Delf-Smith Award, Girton College Cambridge 2006 – Biological sciences award for academic excellence