Giulia Cimarelli, PhD


Curriculum Vitae

Giulia Cimarelli studied Biology at the University of Rome “Sapienza” (Italy) until 2011. She finished her Bachelor studies with a thesis in applied ethology entitled “Neurobehavioral analysis of the effects of chronic antidepressants treatment in mice” under the supervision of Prof. Enrico Alleva and Dr. Igor Branchi (Section of Behavioural Neuroscience, Department of Cell Biology and Neurosciences, Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS), Rome, Italy). Afterwards she started the Master's program “Behavioral Biology” at the University of Florence (Italy).

In September 2012, she moved to Vienna thanks to the Erasmus Program and she started working on her Master's thesis (“Investigating the mechanisms of dogs’ comprehension of human pointing gesture”) at the Clever Dog Lab under the supervision of Dr. Zsófia Virányi. After that, she worked for one year and a half as research assistant till she started her PhD (“Is the owner a dog’s best friend? A behavioral, physiological and epigenetic analysis of the dog-human relationship”) at the Clever Dog Lab and at the Wolf Science Center (supervisors: Dr. Zsófia Virányi, Prof. Ludwig Huber). 

Her work integrated behavioral, physiological and epigenetic measurements and aimed at understanding the evolutionary origins and the developmental plasticity of dog-human relationships (i.e. by comparing the relationships dogs form with humans to those formed with other dogs and to those that wolves form with other wolves as well as by investigating how human interaction styles influences dog’s social behavior).

She completed her PhD in March 2018 and she is currently working as a post-doc both at the Unit of Comparative Cognition of the Messerli Research Institute and at the Domestication Lab of the Konrad-Lorenz-Institute of Ethology 2.


Main Fields of Research

Intra- and inter-specific social relationships

Canine social behavior

Genetics and epigenetics

Physiological parameters of stress/arousal

Interplay between emotions and learning

Social learning


Research Projects




Cimarelli, G; Marshall-Pescini, S; Range, F; Virányi, Z 5 (2019): Pet dogs' relationships vary rather individually than according to partner"s species. Sci Rep. 2019; 9(1):3437 

Huber L, Popovová N, Riener S, Salobir K, Cimarelli G (2018). Would dogs copy irrelevant actions from their human caregiver? Learning & Behavior, 46. doi: 10.3758/s13420-018-0336-z

Cimarelli G, Turcsán B, Range F, Virányi Z (2017) The other end of the leash: an experimental test to analyze how owners interact with their pet dogs. Journal of Visualized Experiments, e56233, doi:10.3791/56233

Cimarelli G, Virányi Z, Turcsán, B, Rónai Z, Bánlaki Z (2017) Social Behavior of Pet Dogs is Associated with Peripheral OXTR Methylation. Frontiers in Psychology. 8:549. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00549

Bánlaki Z, Cimarelli G, Virányi Z, Kubinyi E, Sasvári-Székeli M, Rónai Z (2017) DNA methylation patterns of behavior-related gene promoter regions dissect the gray wolf from domestic dog breeds. Molecular Genetics and Genomics. doi: 10.1007/s00438-017-1305-5

Cimarelli G, Turcsán B, Bánlaki Z, Range F, Virányi Z (2016) Dog owners´ interaction styles: their components and associations with reactions of pet dogs to a social threat. Frontiers in Psychology, 7:1979. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01979



Giulia Cimarelli PhD.
T +43 1 25077-2673
E-Mail to Giulia Cimarelli