I am an evolutionary biologist studying vocal communication in birds. Ever since I have been intrigued by animal behaviour and the way animals interact with each other and their surrounding. After a brief detour completing an apprenticeship as technical draughtswomen in mechanical engineering I realised my place won’t be in sealed off rooms, but outside observing and experiencing the living nature.
In 2009, I graduated with a Bachelor degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Kaiserslautern in Germany. Moving my focus to vocal communication, I then graduated with a Master degree in Behavioural Biology from the University of Zurich in Switzerland in 2011. Supervised by Prof. Marta Manser I investigated the function of close calls (a contact call emitted during foraging) in wild meerkats in the Kalahari Desert of South Africa. In my sparse time, I worked as a research assistant in the Communication and Cognition in Social Mammals Group, where I have been involved in various projects lead by Prof. Marta Manser, including studies on the flexibility and variation in meerkat close calling, as well as on a collaborative study with Dr. Roberto LaMarca on acoustic characteristics of the human voice in response to psychological and physiological stress.
Conducting field work in the Kalahari Desert (click here for information on the Kalahari Research Centre), I got exposed to the loud and boisterous nature of the cheeky babblers. This formative experience manifested my interest into bird behaviour and communication, and paved the way for my PhD (completed 2016 with distinction at the Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies of the University of Zurich with Associate Prof. Simon Townsend, Prof. Marta Manser and Prof. Amanda Ridley), and my work on combinatorial capacities in babbler birds and its implications for human language evolution. In 2017, I took up a position as postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Comparative Linguistics of the University of Zurich (Comparative Communication and Cognition Group, Associate Prof. Simon Townsend), where I followed-up on my PhD work on combinatorial structures in the pied and chestnut-crowned babblers. Beginning of 2020, I moved to the Department of Behavioural and Cognitive Biology of the University of Vienna (hosted by Prof. Tecumseh Fitch) investigating more mechanistic aspects of combinatorial abilities and their environmental drivers.
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