Research Perspective

I use a psychobiological framework to investigate the underlying mechanisms and adaptive function of social relationships and prosociality in animal models, ranging from primates to pigs. My research investigates why individuals vary in their propensities to affiliate and cooperate with others and how this variation influences their fitness. This work has broader implications for understanding the evolution of cooperation and the mechanisms by which social support provides health benefits

Research Approaches

My research utilizes interdisciplinary perspectives and methods from psychology, ethology and endocrinology. I integrate behavioral observations with non-invasive collection of urine or saliva samples to measure changes in hormones associated with specific social contexts, and to identify causes of inter-individual variation in responses. In the past I have used these techniques to explore social relationships and cooperation in primates. I am currently applying similar techniques to develop comparative models of social support, prosociality and empathy in farm animals.

Current Research Topics

  • Neuroendocrine, behavioral and immunological responses to early life adversity in a pig model
  • Proximate factors mediating helping behaviour in pigs
  • Developing novel welfare indicators in farm animal