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Dancing with wolves – prestigious award goes to a scientist at the Vetmeduni Vienna

01-27-2012 - The American Psychological Association has recognized Friederike Range of the Messerli Research Institute at the Vetmeduni Vienna with a 2012 “Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology”.

The American Psychological Association, the largest psychological society in the world, will grant a 2012 “Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology” to Dr Friederike Range of the Messerli Research Institute at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna). The award is recognition of Range’s ground-breaking research on animal cognition and will be made in August 2012 at a ceremony in Orlando, Florida.  The American Psychological Association grants the award each year to excellent young scientists whose work has already contributed substantially to the field of psychology.

Animal behaviour and cognition

From the very start of her scientific career, Range’s research has focused on animal behaviour and cognition, with her most recent work addressing social and physical cognition in dogs and wolves.  Her results have invariably been thought-provoking and frequently spectacular.  As an example, she showed by means of sophisticated tests that dogs have a kind of sense of fairness.  In a further study, she and her colleagues discovered that male and female dogs perceive some features of their environments in a different way. The majority of Range’s work with dogs has been undertaken in the so-called Clever Dog Lab in Vienna, while her work on wolves has been performed at the Wolf Science Center in Ernstbrunn, Niederösterreich.  Range is a co-founder of both of these research institutes. Nevertheless, her research has not been restricted to dogs:  she has also studied various species of monkeys as well as ravens, keas and even man.

International career

Friederike Range studied at the University of Bayreuth, where her diploma work related to the social behaviour of the sooty mangabey, a primate species found in West African forests.  For her doctoral project she went to the University of Pennsylvania, where the distinguished behavioural scientists Robert Seyfarth and Dorothy Cheney helped her continue her investigations.  She then spent six months at the Konrad Lorenz Research Station in Grünau, Upper Austria, studying the intelligence and social behaviour of corvids. In 2005 she moved to Ludwig Huber’s group at the Department of Cognitive Biology in the University of Vienna. In this period she also started to work with dogs and wolves.  On 1 September 2011 Range and Huber moved together to the new Messerli Research Institute at the Vetmeduni Vienna, where she is continuing her successful work on animal behavior and cognition.