I’m a Senior Lecturer in Cognitive Biology in the School of Biological & Chemical Sciences at Queen Mary University of London. My research interests are in the intelligence of animals, especially corvids, parrots and primates, and the evolution and psychology of innovation and creativity. I’m currently working with the famous ravens at the Tower of London, and I’m hoping to start a project soon on ratites; ostriches, emus and rheas. This is the earliest evolved group of birds, that has been largely ignored by science, despite potentially telling us about how avian intelligence evolved. Studies on learning and cognition in ratites may also tell us something about the intelligence of dinosaurs over and above measures of brain size. My first popular science book ‘Bird Brain: An exploration of avian intelligence’ is published by Ivy Press (UK; August 4th) and Princeton University Press (USA; August 30th). The original illustrations I created for this work can be found elsewhere on this site.
I’m on the editorial boards of a number of journals, including the Journal of Comparative Psychology, Animal Cognition and Communicative & Integrative Biology. I have edited two books; Cognitive Neuroscience of Social Behaviour (2005; with Alex Easton for Psychology Press) and Social Intelligence: From brain to culture (2008; with Nicky Clayton and Chris Frith for Oxford University Press).
I have a second life in which I write and illustrate picture books for children focusing on stories involving animals or non-fiction books about evolution, the natural world and teaching children about the behaviour and intelligence of animals. I’m still trying to get my first children’s book published!