Each year the journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution (MEE) from the British Ecological Society awards the Robert May Prize to the best paper submitted by an early career research author. I was excited to hear I was shortlisted for the 2021 award for single-author paper “Broad-scale applications of the Raspberry Pi: A review and guide for biologists” (open access here). This led me to wrote an invited blog post about writing the paper on the MEE Methods blog. I congratulate David Wilkinson for eventually winning the award this year.
I just heard the news that our grant application entitled Cognitive buffer and population persistence under environmental change for a Research project grant was awarded by the Spanish Ministry (I+D+i, MICINN)!
Using a population of jackdaws that has been monitored for two decades, we will combine molecular analyses, field observations, field experiments, and remote sensing to analyse how individuals gather and share information to exploit food resource that vary in time and space, and assess how their individual and collective decisions affect population dynamics.
The €160k grant is led by Dr Dani Sol, also from CREAF, and is for until the end of 2023. I am excited to be part of the interdisciplinary team and to be working with Jackdaws again, pushing novel technologies to study their individual and collective behaviour in the wild!
I am happy to say that today I start my new job as an independent postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF)! CREAF is a research institute in Barcelona, Spain, focused on biodiversity and global change and has been accredited as an Severo Ochoa Center of Excellence. I am excited to continue my work on individual heterogeneity here in Catalunya to understand how animal groups and communities deal with environmental change. Watch this space!
I have been awarded a €3.900 grant from the Young Scholar Fund for a pilot project in the Spanish Pyrenees to assess the effects of severe drought on fish persistence. Specifically, I want to understand how individuals and groups of fish deal with severe droughts and how phenotypic variation may impact population structure and persistence. This project will hopefully provide the basis for a long-term project whereby I will use an individual-based approach to understand how individuals and groups of fish cope with environmental change.
Today is the start of a new research period for me. I was very lucky to be awarded both a von Humboldt postdoctoral fellowship as well as a Zukunfstkolleg fellowship. These fellowships will give me the freedom to fully develop and pursue my own research ideas and set up my own interdisciplinary research program.
The next couple years I will aim to set up a unified framework for investigating the link between consistent behavioural variation, the emergence of collective properties, group functioning, and ultimately individual fitness and between-group dynamics. I will employ a combination of detailed laboratory experiments, field surveys, and computational modelling to study consistent behavioural phenotypes and collective behaviour of three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus).
By developing this framework and fully bridging the gap between the fields of Animal Personality and Collective Behaviour, I aim for this project to yield crucial new insights into the ecological and evolutionary implications of consistent behavioural phenotypes and the evolution of sociality.
An important aspect of science is the dialogue with the general public. Most public outreach is however rather static, only focused on transferring knowledge, and quite uni-directional. I wanted to find a way to convey my research about collective animal behaviour in a format that people can engage with and appreciate.
An excellent opportunity for more interactive outreach is to bridge science with art. Not only may this lead to a better understanding of science by the general public and more appreciation about the hidden beauty of the world around us, it may also generate new ideas and perspectives about my own work.
I am excited to say that I have been awarded a Zukunftskolleg Intersectoral grant that enables me to set-up a professional collaboration with Toer, a Dutch design studio known for their curiosity-driven work and interactive art installations. This long-term program will bridge the disciplines of science, art, and technology with the aim to not only inform and educate the public about collective behaviour but to inspire and make science accessible in a playful way.
The project is called Under the surface, of which soon we will launch a brand new website at www.under-the-surface.com!
I am excited to have been awarded a Zukunftskolleg Mentorship grant to continue my collaboration with Shaun Killen. Shaun and I started working together last year to unravel the fundamental mechanisms of individual traits in the collective behaviour of animal groups. Besides setting-up some new experiments on fish physiology, personality and collective behaviour, we are writing an opinion paper on this important topic.
Today I submitted a grant application for an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship, entitled The ecological and evolutionary implications of individual differences in collective behaviour. The goal of the proposed project is to develop an interdisciplinary research program to investigate the link between consistent behavioural variation, the emergence of collective properties, group functioning, and ultimately individual fitness and between-group dynamics. I am very excited about this project and have started to lay the foundations for it here in Konstanz. Now 10 months wait ahead!
My application for an ASAB Research Grant was successful, meaning I will be able to do an exciting post-doc project in the new year back in Cambridge invesigating the effects of personality and group size in schooling sticklebacks! ∞
I was awarded the Thirkill Prize for my contributions to college life. I fulfilled the position of Graduate Research Officer, set-up a brand new umbrella organisation called “Clarity” with the aim to increase the interdisciplinary discussion at Clare, and organised the yearly Clare Research Symposium, which was a great succes. Read more about it here. ∞
This year I presented my work on social attraction and boldness on sticklebacks at the Easter ASAB conference in Sheffield and won the prize for Best Poster (£100)!. You can see the full poster by clicking on the image. ∞
This year at the annual ASAB Easter Conference I won the prize for “Best question” ∞