Biography & Research
I am a graduate in Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, specialising in Zoology. I am currently spending a year gaining additional field research experience, before continuing my graduate studies in evolutionary biology (MSc in Evolution and Ecology in the Netherlands).
I have always held a deep fascination for science and biology, and especially for evolutionary biology and behavioural ecology – I find it intriguing to ask questions about how selection shapes the world around us, and investigate why organisms appear and behave as they do. My enthusiasm for research and biology was further fuelled by the fascinating Natural Sciences course at the University of Cambridge, as well as by the several research projects which I had the privilege to take part in. These projects took me on a journey through different countries and continents, and through several of the, in my opinion, most fascinating topics in biology – including work on ecological engineering in the Philippines (with Prof. Settele from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research), cell biology and genetics in Austria (research group of Prof. Friml) and pollination ecology in Panama (research group of Prof. Jiggins). For my bachelor thesis, I investigated the effect of shoal coherence and personality composition on foraging success and learning in three-spined sticklebacks, under the supervision of Dr. Boogert.
I am very excited to now join the African Cuckoos group and work on the amazing study system of cuckoo finches and their various hosts. During my time here, I will carry out two projects. Firstly, I will use behavioural experiments to investigate two hypotheses for why cuckoo finch chicks have black skin – as a way of accentuating the signal of the striking red and yellow inner areas of the mouth, or as part of their thermoregulation. Secondly, in collaboration with Nick Horrocks, I will monitor chick rearing environments in the various hosts of cuckoo finches. This will allow us to explore how phenotypic plasticity can mediate adaptation of parasite chicks to host-specific rearing environments.