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IMG_0268Dr Karen Spencer – PI

I Graduated with a degree in Zoology from the University of London and then went on to do a PhD in Ecological Physiology at the University of Stirling under the supervision of Prof. David Bryant. I then moved into bioacoustics, sexual signalling and endocrinology whilst at the University of Bristol, working with Professor Clive Catchpole, Dr Arthur Goldsmith and Dr Kate Buchanan. After that I moved to Glasgow to take up a post-doc working with Prof. Pat Monaghan and then an independent BBSRC David Phillips Research Fellowship, which I moved to St Andrews in 2011. I am now a Lecturer in Psychology and Neuroscience. My main research interests lie in the fields of behavioural neuroendocrindocrinology, behavioural ecology and developmental programming. My work utilises multi-disciplinary approaches to gain a greater understanding of the mechanisms that underlie complex patterns of animal behaviour, bringing together information at the molecular, physiological and whole organism level to facilitate this.


Maria pic  Dr Maria Larriva – Post-doc

I was born in the most beautiful city of Spain, in Madrid, and I am a Chemist by training. I got my B.S. in Chemistry in The Complutense University of Madrid in 2005 and my PhD in 2010 at the same University…playing with in silico proteins!!!  (last paper is attached) After that,  I moved to Pamplona to do a Master Degree in Biomedical Research in the University of Navarra and I joined  Dr. Maria Javier Ramirez’s group in the Department of pharmacology. I joined the MoB group in February 2014.

My research interests: hormones, stress and brain and misfolded proteins linked to neurodegeneration

 Dr Jeroen Minderman – Leverhulme Trust Independent Research Fellow – Jeroen’s research is here

I studied biology and ecology at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands (1999-2005) and obtained my PhD (behavioural ecology of starlings) from Newcastle University (2005-2009). Since then, I have worked in post-doc positions at the University of Stirling and Newcastle, held a University Impact Research Fellowship at the University of Stirling and I am currently (2015-2018) on a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at the University of St Andrews. Since 2011 I am an associate editor for the Journal of Applied Ecology and actively contribute to and collaborate with the Stirling Conservation Science group.

Broadly, my interests are in behavioural ecology and conservation biology, and ornithology in particular. Specifically, I am interested in understanding and predicting behavioural responses to environmental change (anthropogenic or otherwise) in a range of species and systems. My current fellowship focuses on linking behavioural responses to different stressors or risks, to physiological stress responses. This involves both field experiments in model systems (Great tits Parus major and Blue tits Cyanistes caeruleus) as attempts to tests the same patterns in more applied contexts, in collaboration with Will Cresswell and Karen Spencer.


Ben 1  Ben Turnbull – PhD Student

I graduated from the University of Birmingham with an undergraduate masters (MSci) in Human Biology, specialising in behavioural, cellular, and structural biology. I joined the University of St Andrews to commence my PhD on the mechanisms of behaviour in September 2013. I am interested in animal behaviour at multiple levels of organisation including gene expression, neuroendocrinology, development, and output. I aim to determine the mechanisms underlying variation in cognitive abilities using songbirds as a model.

Blog: www.bencturnbull.wordpress.com

I blog about my experience of the undergrad-postgrad transition. I talk about what I’ve been doing as well as the ups and downs which come with the process. In doing so, I am trying to humanise science.

image  David Walker – PhD Student

I graduated in 2008 with an honours degree in Zoology from the University of Dundee. Up until the start of my PhD, I worked as a research technician in various laboratories at the University of Dundee during which I achieved an MSc by research. My PhD is looking at how stress induces cognitive decline during aging using an avian model, the Japanese quail. I am particularly interested in the genetic and cellular mechanisms that regulate the stress-response, how this varies across different life stages and the consequential impact this has for biological fitness.

Georgia Longmoor – PhD student joint with the Roslin Institute, Edinburgh.

I’m Georgia, a PhD student based between the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh, and the Mechanisms of Behaviour group at the University of St Andrews. I’m originally from Durham in North East England.
I started my journey into neuroendocrinology as an undergraduate Psychology research intern at Newcastle University, where our team used a multidisciplinary approach to measure the effects of chronic stress on welfare. I initially joined to conduct behavioural tests, but as I learnt more about hormone measurements and analysing the brain, I became more and more interested in the neural mechanisms which control behaviour.
After graduation I completed my master’s in Animal Behaviour working with the same team, where I explored my research interests and developed skills in the lab and the field. I investigated seasonal changes in the neural song system of two species of wild songbirds in Finland.
During my masters I became interested in how the brain can be so plastic and respond in an adaptive way to the environment, which led me to pursue a PhD project of the same theme! I’m currently investigating the importance of the early life environment for a bird’s development, and I’m very interested in how stressful experiences can actually give birds an adaptive behavioural and physiological advantage under certain conditions. My main aim is to discover how this might be true for avian social behaviour, and the neuroendocrine mechanisms which control it.

Mizuki Morisaki – PhD Student

Teresa Abaurrea – Technician

Catherine Dunlavey – Masters of Research Student

Jessica-Lily Harvey PhD Student

Rebecca Lakin – PhD Student

I graduated from the University of Leeds in 2015 with a BSc in Psychology before pursuing an MSc in Biodiversity and Conservation the following year. I have a strong interest in seabird ecology and behaviour. My previous research projects have investigated the behaviour of Herring gulls in response to playbacks of their alarm calls as well as the foraging behaviour of Northern Gannets during the breeding season. I have recently joined the Mechanisms of Behaviour group to commence my PhD, which is a NERC funded Case partnership between the University of St Andrews and the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO Scotland). My research aims to focus on the role of early

life experiences on the behaviour and physiology of Herring and Lesser Black-backed gulls. I dabble in blogging about all things seabirdy and plan to post updates about my fieldwork and research over the next 4 years>>>>; http://gullgirl.wordpress.com/

Zofia – Masters Student

Ellina Knusden – UG Honours dissertation student

Marie Bowers – UG Honours dissertation student

Heather Lyon – UG Honours dissertation student

Kelly Hendry – UG Honours dissertation student


MGE_KASwordpress_pic  Dr. Michael Emmerson

My research interests are in the study of individual differences in life-span development. Specifically, I am interested in the formative antecedents that contribute to variation in adult psychological characteristics and physiological functioning, and the capacity for change within adulthood. During my undergraduate studies at Newcastle University I gained research experience alongside Prof. Daniel Nettle, Prof. Melissa Bateson, and Dr Tom Smulders that emphasised the utility of using comparative and bio-mechanical approaches to achieve an understanding of individual development. After graduating from Newcastle with a degree in Psychology (BSc. Hons., 1st Class) I accepted a funded position at the University of St Andrews to complete my PhD in Psychology (co-supervised by Dr Karen Spencer & Dr Gillian Brown). My thesis refines my aforementioned interests by investigating the potentially long-lasting influence of social stress during adolescence on adult anxiety-like, social, & sexual behaviour, adrenal and gonadal endocrine function, and the neural receptor distribution of hormones implicated in stress, sociality, and sexuality.

Dr Camille Duval (http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Camille_Duval/publications)

Dr Valeria Marasco (http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Valeria_Marasco)

Dr Cedric Zimmer – Post-doctoral Fellow – now at Cornell University.

Dr Neeltje Boogert – NWO Research Fellow – Now at Oxford University.

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