This is just a short post to introduce you to my new place of work (for the next nine months or so). Don’t worry, I haven’t abandoned the post-doc, it is part of it. I am currently Research Coordinator of the Living Links Research Centre in Edinburgh Zoo.
As I pointed out in my last post, my office is now just across the corridor from capuchin and squirrel monkeys. Whilst you may not be able to nose around my office, you can, however, see my ‘lab’. The area in which all of the research is carried out is on display. As visitors walk into the centre, past the monkeys’ outdoor enclosures, they get to see the monkeys’ indoor areas and also the research room. It is here that we carry out our work in full view of the zoo visitors.
The cognitive experiments that go on here are all about finding out about the how our primate cousins think and how they have evolved. Researchers here examine a range of subjects, including problem solving, learning from others, facial recognition and animal welfare. All of it is non-invasive, we do nothing that harms any of our monkeys; they choose whether they come in for the experiments.
The centre also has some great science interpretation, explaining what we’re up to and showing some of the apparatus that has been used in experiments. There is a chance for visitors to see if they can identify individual monkeys, find out about the cognition of different species and the evolution of primates. However, for me, the key really is the fact that when I am doing an experiment, zoo visitors will be watching. They, in turn, will be seeing some scientists going about their daily life and carrying out our experiments. We have nothing (and nowhere) to hide. For me, that’s reassuring.
So, if you’re about in Edinburgh, do pop into the zoo to see us all – researchers and monkeys. If you’re not around, why not have a look at the website.