Kevin Laland is Professor of Behavioural and Evolutionary Biology at the University of St Andrews, where he is a member of the Centre for Biological Diversity, the Centre for Social learning and Cognitive Evolution, the Institute for Behavioural and Neural Sciences, and the Scottish Primate Research Group. After completing his PhD at University College London, Kevin held a Human Frontier Science Programme fellowship at UC Berkeley, followed by BBSRC and Royal Society University Research fellowships at the University of Cambridge, before moving to St Andrews in 2002. He has published over 230 scientific articles and 13 books on a wide range of topics related to animal behaviour and evolution, particularly social learning, cultural evolution and niche construction. He is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a Fellow of the Society of Biology, and the recipient of both an ERC Advanced Grant and a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award.
Kelly Robinson is interested in how behaviour, physiological systems and energetics interact to impact on individual fitness and survival. She investigates how hormones and neuropeptides influence behavioural expression and energetics, from a whole organism to cellular level. Much of her research has focused on oxytocin and its role in maternal and social behaviour. She has studied marine mammal species, principally the grey seal, for much of her career to date, and is expanding her research to include terrestrial animal species and humans. Kelly completed her PhD at the University of St Andrews in 2014 and did a three year post-doc at the Scottish Oceans Institute before taking one year of maternity leave. She has joined the Laland Lab as a part time associate lecturer in animal behaviour and evolution.
Dr Mike Webster
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Mike Webster is interested in the functions and evolution of group living in animals. He investigates how groups are organised, how animals interact and acquire information from one another, and how individual behaviour affects and is affected by that of the group. For the most part he uses shoaling fishes and crustaceans as study systems for understanding more general aspects of social behaviour. After completing his PhD at the University of Leicester in 2007, Mike moved to the University of St Andrews, joining the Laland Lab as a post-doc. He is now a lecturer in behavioural and evolutionary biology.
Thomas Oudman holds a 2-year Visiting Scholarship in the Laland Lab, financed by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research. He is a behavioural ecologist from the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, working on the learning behaviour of migratory birds. He focusses on how traditions help and hinder birds in adjusting their flight schedules and destination as a response to e.g. climate change. Thomas received his PhD on Red Knots wintering at Banc d’Arguin, Mauritania, focussing on the factors that determine their foraging decisions.
Helen Spence-Jones is interested in the role of phenotypic plasticity in evolution and is working on the project entitled, An experimental test of plasticity-led evolution. Her model system is the three-spine stickleback. Helen graduated with a BA in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge in 2014, then worked for two years as a field research assistant for the Kalahari Meerkat Project before coming to St Andrews.
Karina Vanadzina studies the role of niche construction in the evolution of parental care patterns in fish, spiders and social insects using phylogenetic comparative methods. She is working on the project entitled, Adaptive trends and parallel evolution generated by niche construction. Before moving to St Andrews, she undertook a MSc in Palaeobiology at the University of Bristol where she explored the developmental history of calcite-secreting marine microorganisms called foraminifera.
Edith Invernizzi is a PhD student in Theoretical Biology under the supervision of Prof Graeme Ruxton and Prof Kevin Laland. She studies the dynamics of evolution of complex behaviour using computational simulations and is particularly interested in integrating information across disciplines. She obtained her MPhil with a thesis in Human Behavioural Ecology under Prof Ruth Mace (2016) and a BSc Genetics with Mandarin Chinese from the University of Manchester (2015). She briefly worked as a bioinformatician on non-coding RNA evolution under Prof Sam Griffiths-Jones.
Lynn Chiu is working with Kevin Laland on communicating research in the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis research program. Her own work concerns the theoretical implications of niche construction, the biological individuality of the holobiont (the host organism and its microbiome), and science communication strategies that build community. She has a PhD in Philosophy from University of Missouri and completed her postdoc under the IDEM ERC project at University of Bordeaux/CNRS.
We are working towards improving equality and diversity in the School of Biology and the University of St Andrews as a whole. Visit the School’s Equality and Diversity Committee website for more details.