Alice Auersperg 2 established the Goldegg Goffin Lab shortly after her PhD in 2011. She is in involved in all animal management and experimental supervision. Alice joined the Messerli Institute in April 2016 and is currently PI of two ongoing FWF projects. She is interested in comparative cognition, physical cognition and tool use. 


Mark O’Hara 4 started working in the Goldegg Goffin Lab by introducing the touchscreen computer to the cockatoos. In his first project he was looking at the effect of neophilia and exploration in a simple discrimination learning task. With this information he managed to devise a method to test for inference by exclusion, as well as other important processes underlying decision making, on the touchscreen. Importantly, together with Berenika Mioduszewska he has been organizing our field research on the Tanimbar Islands in Indonesia, which are the natural habitat of the Goffin's cockatoos. In this project, and in collaboration with the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), they established a long term study site on Tanimbar and are presently gaining important insights into the cockatoos' ecological background. These might help us understand the evolution of their remarkable cognitive abilities. An important part of their work on Tanimbar is also educational outreach and conservation related projects involving the local communities. He is currently an Erwin Schrödinger fellow at the LIPI on a project on the Cognitive Ecology of the Goffin's cockatoo.


Berenika Mioduszewska organizes field expeditions together with Mark O’Hara to investigate Goffin’s cockatoos’ behaviour and feeding ecology in their natural habitat of the Tanimbar Islands, Indonesia. Berenika is particularly interested in the behavioural or even possible cognitive differences between wild and captive birds.


Antonio Jose Osuna Mascaró 7 is a biologist with broad interest in science as reflected in his multidisciplinary background (which combines topics as neuroscience, paleontology, biological evolution, or animal behaviour and cognition). He has a strong experience as science communicator, mainly related to animal cognition and directed to all kind of audiences (from high schools to TEDx). After finishing his PhD he began a collaboration with the Primate Behavior Laboratory (UGA) and the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project, studying tool use in chimpanzees. His interest now is to unveil the tooling abilities of the Goffin’s cockatoos.


Theresa Rößler 9 is a PhD Student at the Messerli Research Institute. She is interested in the innovative abilities of the Goffin's cockatoo. Together with Berenika Mioduszewska she recently launched a new paradigm, the innovation arena to systematically compare innovation rates in wild and captive cockatoos. At the moment she is additionally interested in sequential problem solving and tool use.


Heidelinde Wanas: After working in the construction industry for nearly 20 years, Heidelinde decided to quit the job for passing the courses Certified Animal Trainer and Certified Animal Masseur and Animal Movement Coach. Since then she is working as an animal trainer with the main focus on training dogs and cashmere goats. Since May 2019 Heidelinde is working as Animal Manager and member of the team of the Goffin Lab Goldegg, there she is responsible for care and well-being of the 16 Goffin cockatoos.


Nicola Pachmann is responsible for the development and construction of technical equipment for research and ongoing maintenance.



Isabella Beinauer conducted her master’s thesis at the Department of Cognitive Biology at the University of Vienna. At the time she studied prospective and retrospective tool selection in Goffin’s cockatoos. Her experiment investigates how far the animals can reflect upon prospective and retrospective cues during binary decision making. At the moment she is still a regular visitor at the lab being involved in a study on the sensorimotor development of our birds.


Anna Hayaki is a joint Master student at Messerli Research Institute and at the Department of Cognitive Biology at the University of Vienna. She currently investigates the possible use of compound tools in Goffin's cockatoos.Specifically she is interested in whether and how the birds can actively adjust the length of their tools using multiple parts of material.


Birgit Wakonig is a Master student at Messerli research Institute. Before entering her Master’s project, she was already involved in a study on inequity aversion in Goffin's cockatoos.Her current interest is the string pulling paradigm.



Goffin Lab