Comparative Cognition Team
I am Professor of the Natural Science Foundations of Animal Ethics and Human-Animal Interactions, head of the Unit of Comparative Cognition, and currently also head of the Messerli Research Institute. My research has focused on animal cognition in a broad, comparative manner, including such diverse species as pigeons, marmosets, dogs, kea, tortoise, lizards, poison frogs and humans.
Ass.-Prof. Priv.-Doz. Dr.rer.nat. Alice Isabel Marie Auersperg
I am managing the Goffin Lab since its origins in 2011. My background is in biology and my interests include the evolution of play behaviour, innovation, physical cognition and tool use. While my main focus species are parrots, I also enjoy working comparatively with primates, human children and robots.
I am an animal behaviourist at heart interested in the interplay between cognitive abilities and ecological specialisation. During my studies I fell in love with the enigmatic kea parrot. Their specific behavioural profile allows for the investigation of complex cognitive skills such as cooperation and social learning, but also often overlooked phenomena such as the effect of play on sociality.
As a founder of the Clever Dog Lab and the Wolf Science Center, I have conducted most of my research on dogs and wolves to study the effects of domestication on dogs’ reasoning and social learning abilities, communication and cooperation with humans and conspecifics. Deeply interested in how human and non-human animals differ and compare to each other, I enjoy comparing canine cognition to children, primates and, most recently, to pigs.
I am interested in the evolutionary origins of flexible behaviour and abstract thought. Therefore, I study how nonhuman animals, particularly great apes and dogs, cope with new challenges using inferential reasoning or intention reading abilities. In ongoing projects, I use eye tracking and 3D body tracking technology to examine how dogs perceive and process their social and physical environment.
Dr.rer.nat. Remco Folkertsma
I am a biologist with a broad background in behavioral biology, ecology and evolution. During my PhD I developed an interest in statistics and bio-informatics, and now I am a statistician in the comparative cognition team. Here I support colleagues and students in experimental design and the analysis of quantitative data.
Associated with Platform for Bioinformatics und Biostatistics
Yuri Kawaguchi, PhD.
I am interested in how non-human animals recognize the age of other individuals. Which cue do they use to extract age information? Do they behave tolerantly toward infants compared with adults? As a post doc, I am investigating how dogs react to puppies versus adult dogs, here in Clever Dog Lab.
Megan Lambert, PhD.
As an Elise Richter fellow, I am particularly interested in how kea (a notoriously curious and innovative parrot species) learn about, understand, and solve problems in their physical environment. My current research focuses on limits of their innovative tool using abilities, the causes and functions of their curiosity, and how they reason about unobservable physical properties such as weight.
Mag.rer.nat. Mark Christopher O'Hara, PhD.
I studied Animal Cognition in Vienna and found myself more and more interested in the ecological factors promoting certain cognitive traits. My current research aims at a comprehensive understanding of the Goffin’s cockatoos astonishing tool abilities, as well as the environmental circumstances in which it emerged. Furthermore, I am engaged in finding ways to protect this species and it’s habitat.
Univ.-Ass. Mag. Amelia Wein-Schwing, PhD.
I completed my PhD on vocal production in kea parrots (Nestor notabilis). I am currently working on projects investigating motor imitation in kea, stress and sexual hormones in kea, and vocal behavior in nesting kea mothers and chicks. I am interested in improving understanding of breeding behavior in parrots, as well as improving husbandry for captive birds.
Jennifer Anne Colbourne, MA.
I am studying the development of tool use in both Goffin’s cockatoos and young children, working within the embodied cognition framework of tooling theory. My broader interests include how innovative tool use emerges in a species’ evolutionary history, and how innovative species adapt to their environments, particularly in urban settings.
Poppy Lambert, MSc.
I’m a 3rd year PhD student in the Goffin Lab. I’m working with our Goffin’s cockatoos, and young children, to find out more about what influences the ability to innovate solutions to tool-use problems. I am also interested in the evolution of cognitive abilities relating to the use of weight-based information.
Lucrezia Lonardo, MSc.
I am a Ph.D. student at the Clever Dog Lab. I am working on the project “Convergent Evolution of the Social Brain? A comparative dog-human fMRI approach” (supervisors: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Huber and Univ.-Prof. Dr. Lamm). The main focus of the project are theory of mind, action understanding and empathy in dogs and humans. These will be investigated by combining behavioural, eye-tracker and neuroimaging studies.
Louise Eleanor Mackie, MSc. BSc.
I am a PhD student under the supervision of Ludwig Huber, working in the Clever Dog Lab. My area of interest lies in the social cognition of dogs, particularly, why and how they may use imitation (copying the actions of others) behaviour to explore their physical or social environment.
Dr. Antonio Jose Osuna Mascaro
I am a biologist with broad interest in science as reflected in my multidisciplinary background. I am a passionate science communicator, mainly related to animal cognition and directed to all kind of audiences. After finishing his PhD I studied tool use in chimpanzees. My interest is now is to unveil the tooling abilities of the Goffin’s cockatoos.
Theresa Rößler, MSc.
I am a PhD Student at the Goffin Lab and I am interested in the innovative abilities of the Goffin's cockatoo. Together with Berenika Mioduszewska I launched a new paradigm, the innovation arena to systematically compare innovation rates in wild and captive cockatoos. At the moment I am additionally interested in associative tool use and Goffin Ecology.
Elisabeth Suwandschieff, MSc.
I am a PhD candidate and am working on the FWF funded project “Motor Imitation in Kea Parrots” (supervisors: Dr. Schwing, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Bugnyar und Univ.-Prof. Dr. Huber). The focus of the project lies on social learning and the ability of kea to imitate actions or action sequences that have been demonstrated by conspecifics.
Ariane Veit, MSc.
Since 2016, I investigate the cognitive abilities of domestic pigs (former Clever Pig Lab). To explore the true potential of these animals I consider living conditions as natural as possible to be of particular importance. Within a DOC project financed by the ÖAW, I currently investigate various factors influencing social learning, such as personality, social status, and cognitive abilities.
Jeroen Stephan Zewald, MSc.
I am a PhD-candidate at the Messerli research institute. I am working with tool-using Goffin cockatoos at the Goffin lab, where I research how object combinations and object play can help in creating new ways to use and/or manufacture new tools in novel situations.
Administration & technical support
I am lab manager at the Clever Dog Lab. After my studies in biology (with a focus on zoology), I completed training as a dog behaviour consultant. It is a great pleasure to welcome so many committed dog owners to the Clever Dog Lab for various studies.
I am the head of the institut's administration with its diverse tasks. In addition, I am the unit's assistant and central contact person for administrative matters. My degree in behavioural, neuroscience and cognitive biology enables me to master the interface between science and administration.
Peter Helf, BSc.
The focus of my work is the design and development of new software systems. These systems are used to gather and store data in various research projects. The developed applications range from smartphone and tablet apps to websites and APIs. The architecture of these systems must be flexible to allow the implementation of new and changing requirements.
Associated with Center for Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering, Medical University Vienna
I am an animal welfare qualified dog trainer and work in the Clever Dog Lab. There I have the beautiful and exciting task of training pet dogs. In the course of the project "Convergent evolution of the social brain? A comparative dog-human fMRI research approach (EVOSOCBRAIN)", I teach the dogs everything they need to know in order to participate in the eye-tracker and neuroimaging studies.
I am working at Haidlhof as a zoo-skilled animal keeper and assumed responsibility as head of animal care in 2013. According to this and to my tasks as an apprentice trainer I work as a practicum instructor and teacher at the Tierpfleger Schule at the Vetmeduni.
Heidelinde Wanas, MAS
After working in the construction industry for nearly 20 years, I became Certified Animal Trainer and Certified Animal Masseur and Animal Movement Coach. Since then I have been working as an animal trainer with the main focus on training dogs and cashmere goats. Since May 2019 I am the Animal Manager of the Goffin Lab Goldegg.
Amelia Wein-Schwing, PhD (2020)
Durga Chapagain, PhD (2019)
Giulia Cimarelli, PhD (2018)
Désirée Brucks, PhD (2017)
Jennifer Essler, PhD (2017)
Anjuli Barber, PhD (2017)
Rachel Dale, PhD (2017)
Mylène Quervel-Chaumette, PhD (2016)
Lisa Wallis, PhD (2016)
Mark O'Hara, PhD (2016)
Stefanie Riemer, PhD (2014)
Lisa Horn, PhD (2012)