Victoria Braithwaite Professor of Fisheries and Biology
I study different aspects of animal behavior. I am particularly interested in animal cognition – how animals perceive the world and how they learn and remember information. My research addresses why animal cognition varies, for example what factors affect how clever an animal can become, how does early experience influence affective state (positive and negative outlook), and how do these kinds of effect influence decision making ability?
Although I am interested in determining the mechanisms that underlie cognition and decision making, it is important to understand the evolutionary history and environmental context that has shaped how an animal behaves – my work is therefore multi-disciplinary bridging mechanism with function.
My group and I use a variety of different species to explore different kinds of question. Several of our projects involve fish – particularly our research focusing on cognitive ecology, where we wish to determine how different ecologies and contrasting selection pressures influence learning and memory processes. While several aspects of fish behavior can be considered to be complex, they generate their behavior through a relatively simple vertebrate nervous system - the simplicity of their brain provides us with an opportunity to study specific mechanisms. In this way, my group and I tackle aspects of neurobiology, physiology all the way through to behavior in the whole organism. More recently we have begun to use rodent models to explore how changes in affective mood state influence decision making.
Recent Publicity BBC Newsnight interview on fish pain and commercial fishing:
CV Professor II, UniResearch, Bergen, Norway, 2015-Present Co-Director Center for Brain, Behavior & Cognition (CBBC) 2012,-Present Associate Director of the Penn State Institute of the Neurosciences, 2010-2012 Visiting Professor of Biology, University of Bergen, Norway, 2008-2011 Professor of Fisheries & Biology, Penn State University, USA, 2007-Present Reader, Edinburgh University, UK, 2007 Senior Lecturer, Edinburgh University, UK, 2004-2006 Lecturer, Edinburgh University, UK, 1995- 2004 Post-Doc, Glasgow University & Freshwater Fish Laboratories, UK, 1993-1995 DPhil (PhD) Christopher Welch Scholar, Oxford University, UK, 1993 BA(Hons) Zoology, Oxford University, UK, 1989
Honors and Awards 2016 Fellow, The Linnean Society of London 2016: Storer Endowment Lecture - Major Issues in Biological Sciences, UC Davis, USA 2015 Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies, Berlin, Germany 2014 Harbaugh Faculty Scholar 2011 Edward D. Bellis Award, Ecology, Penn State University 2009 Huggins Lecturer - Acadia University, Canada 2006 Fisheries Society of the British Isles Medal 2005 Fellow of the Royal Institute of Navigation 1989-1992 Christopher Welch Scholar, Oxford University, UK