Wednesday 1 December 2021

Episode 27 - (Season 2, Episode 8) - Marisa Hoeschele

Scientist and metal drummer 
Marisa Hoeschele received an honours B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Philosophy at the University of Guelph, Canada in 2006. After that she completed an M.Sc. and PhD in Psychology with a specialization in Comparative Cognition and Behaviour at the University of Alberta, Canada.

In 2013 she moved to Vienna as a post-doc and built the budgie lab at the Department of Cognitive Biology at the University of Vienna. In October 2018 she started her own group, known as the “Musicality and Bioacoustics” group, at the Acoustics Research Institute of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. This institute has researchers from many different disciplines all studying problems in acoustics: however the first animal studies were not conducted on site until this year in April when the budgie lab was moved to the institute. Marisa studies how different animals, including humans, perceive and produce sounds. The broader goal is to understand where music and language come from and what other similar capacities might exist in the animal kingdom.

Marisa is the first guest I've had on who had a pop filter on her mic.  That's neither here nor there but it's still a thing.

We talked, of course, about how Marisa got into the field in the first place, a bit about Austria and, obviously about her work.  Her work is interdisciplinary and we talked a bit about how this sort of thing is important not just in animal cognition, but in any field.

Thursday 28 October 2021

Episode 26 (Season 2, Episode 7) - Jennifer Foote

Woo hoo! This one should be fun. Partly because I'm talking to.a friend and colleague from Algoma University. Also because it will be only the second episode I've done face to face. Jenn Foote came by my podcast studio (OK, look, I have two podcasting studios in my house, because I'm me, so to be clear, she came to Studio B). and we talked about her work, her origin story, and other stuff.

Jenn Foote completed a BSc. Honours in Biology from St. Mary's University, where her thesis research investigated how neighbour-stranger discrimination in song sparrows was influenced by breeding stage of females. She then moved up the road and completed MSc. in Biology at Dalhousie University where she demonstrated that Eastern song sparrows in NS share songs like west coast birds and unlike other eastern song sparrows. Both her BSc. and MSc. work was supervised by Colleen Barber. Jenn completed a PhD at Queen's with Laurene Ratcliffe where she studied dawn chorus communication networks of black-capped chickadees and demonstrated that males interact vocally at dawn and those interactions sometimes included three or more males. She then did a short postdoc with Dan Mennill at University of Windsor before moving to Algoma University in 2010. She then moved to Algoma University where her lab, the OVEN (Ornithology, Vocalization, and Ecology Network) has been studying vocal behaviour of northern Ontario songbirds. The OVEN does in fact study ovenbirds.

mp3 download

Tuesday 7 September 2021

Episode 25 (Season 2, Episode 6) - Fiona Cross

OK, look, I won't lie, I do love talking to all of the people who have come on the podcast. But, there is one person I've been hoping to talk to since way back in Season 1. It's FIONA CROSS!

Fiona got her BSc (Hons) in Psychology in 2001 before she began working with spiders and then she got her MSc (with Distinction) in Zoology in 2003 and her PhD in Zoology in 2009, with all three degrees being at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. Dr. Cross first went to Kenya to work with spiders in 2006, and has been a Visiting Scientist at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (in Kenya) since 2010. Her research interests include selective attention, working memory, expectancy violation, and problem solving by spiders. Fiona never used to think that spiders could be particularly interesting, but she has since learned that spiders can do many remarkable things that could keep a person awake at night.

Dr. Cross has 46 publications, and her work has featured in many news sources including The New York Times, The Washington Post, National Geographic, BBC, The Guardian, The New Zealand Herald, and Radio New Zealand. Fiona is sorta famous really, to quote her 'I got a fright when I first discovered there is a Wikipedia page about me, and I had to sit down when I discovered that a video about me had been viewed 12,000 times in one day'.  (BTW, that fame is well deserved, she rocks).  As an aside, there used to e a wikipedia page about me, but it was deleted because I suck....

She loves to communicate science, and has so far organized three of her own international speaking tours (one in the UK and two in North America). COVID permitting, she hopes to run a spider event for children at the Christchurch public library in October (the month of the year that arachnologists affectionately refer to as ‘Arachtober’). She's also keen on writing for all ages.

You can learn more about her and her work at her website (

Wednesday 25 August 2021

Episode 24 (Season 2, Episode 5) - Mike Beran

Michael J. Beran is Professor of Psychology and Co-Director of the Language Research Center at Georgia State University.  He received his B.A. in Psychology from Oglethorpe University in 1995, his M.A. in 1997, and his Ph.D. in 2002, both from Georgia State University.  His research is conducted with human and nonhuman primates, including chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, orangutans, capuchin monkeys, and rhesus monkeys.  He also has done research with bears, elephants, and robins.  His research interests include perception, numerical cognition, metacognition, planning and prospective memory, self-control, decision making, and language acquisition.  

Dr. Beran is a Fellow of Division 3 and Division 6 of the American Psychological Association and a Fellow of the Psychonomics Society.  He was the inaugural Duane M. Rumbaugh Fellow at Georgia State University.  He received the Brenda A. Milner award from the APA in 2005.  He has served as the President of the Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology, the Southeast Psychological Association, and the Society for Behavioral Neuroscience and Comparative Psychology (Division 6 of APA).  He is the current Editor of Animal Behavior and Cognition and has served on numerous editorial boards including CognitionAnimal Cognition, Frontiers in Comparative Psychology, the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and CognitionComparative Cognition & Behavior Reviews, the Journal of Comparative PsychologyLearning and Behavior, and the International Journal of Comparative Psychology.  He has published over 200 peer-reviewed journal articles and contributed chapters to over 50 edited books and encyclopedia.  He also is the co-editor of Foundations of Metacognition (2012, Oxford University Press), the author of Self-control in Animals and People (2018, Elsevier), and the co-editor of the forthcoming Primate Cognitive Studies (2022, Cambridge University Press).  

Mike gets 2 pics because I love this slide

His research has been featured on numerous television and radio programs and in magazines, including Animal PlanetBBCNew Scientist, the Wall Street Journal, and Scientific American Mind.  His research is supported by funding from the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Templeton Foundation, and the European Science Foundation.  

In addition to the fun things he gets to do in his lab and with his students and colleagues, he enjoys beekeeping, hiking, paintball with friends (and enemies!), travel, and the occasional good bourbon.  And, of course, ‘Bama football.  Roll Tide.

mp3 download

Tuesday 20 July 2021

Episode 23 (Season 2, Episode 4) - Aimee Sue Dunlap

On today's edition of Spit and Twitches: The Animal Cognition Podcast, I'm joined by Aimee Sue Dunlap.  She is an associate professor of biology at the University of Missouri at St. Louis.

Aimee got her undergraduate degree in biology, history and English in 2000 from the University of Memphis and then her MS in biology from  Northern Arizona University in 2002 and her PhD in ecology, evolution and behavior from the university of Minnesota in 2009. It should be noted that I'm making a concession to American spelling here and should be commended...

Oh we also talked hockey.  Including Liga hockey in Finland.

Work in her lab focusses on the evolution of cognition and the adaptive value of cognition and memory, especially in bees.  We talked about her experimental evolution work, as well as her field and lab stuff.

mp3 download

Monday 12 July 2021

Episode 22 (Season 2, Episode 3) - Caroline Strang

Today on the podcast I'm joined by Caroline Strang.

Caroline is known for her work with bees, horses, dogs, and scarves.

She received her undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Toronto where she worked closely with someone you have have heard of, Sara Shettleworth.

She then went on to work at the University of Western Ontario with someone else who has come up a lot on the podcast, David Sherry. 

Once she finished up her PhD she moved down to UT Austin and became a postdoc with Felicity Muth in their biology department.  

We talked about her work with David on bumblebee vs. honeybee cognition as well as her stuff on reversal learning in bumblebees.  We also talked a bit about her work during her postdoc and of course other stuff.

mp3 download

Wednesday 30 June 2021

Episode 21 (Season 2, Episode 2) - Jeff Martin

Only guest with a baseball scholarship

Jeff Martin joins me on the podcast this week.  He's actually the first non psychologist on the show.  He's a biologist or something...

Jeff attended Northwestern Oklahoma State University (NWOSU) from 2011-2015 on a baseball scholarship. He earned both a BSc in Health and Sports Science and a second BSc in Biology specializing in Natural History. Though they didn’t have a traditional honours program, he did research under the supervision of Dr. Aaron Place investigating simple conditioning in reptiles – mainly snakes. He then moved back home to Canada to attend Western University, obtaining his MSc studying with Dr. David Sherry at the Advanced Facility for Avian Research. His Master’s research focused on how birds respond behaviourally to changes in overwinter temperature

Jeff continued at Western and obtained his PhD under the supervision of Drs. David Sherry and Yolanda Morbey. His research focused on caching decisions made by Canada Jays and what factors may influence site- and item-selection. Jeff has just started a post-doc with Dr. Mélanie Guigueno at McGill University in Montréal (Go Habs Go!), where he will be investigating male choosiness in Brown-headed Cowbirds, and the importance of ecologically relevant tasks in animal cognition and behaviour.

Thanks to Red Arms for letting me mash up their music.

mp3 download