Keynote Speakers

Prof. Dr. Iain D. Couzin
Director of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology

Iain Couzin is Director of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Konstanz, and Chair of Biodiversity and Collective Behaviour at the University of Konstanz, Germany. Previously he was a Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University, USA. His work involves a close integration of experiment and theory to reveal the fundamental principles that underlie collective animal behaviour. In recognition of his research he has been recipient of a “Searle Scholar Award” in 2008, top 5 most cited papers of the decade in animal behavior research 1999-2010, the “Mohammed Dahleh Award” in 2009, Popular Science Magazines "Brilliant 10” Award in 2010, “National Geographic Emerging Explorer Award” in 2012 and the “Scientific Medal of the Zoological Society of London” in 2013.

Prof. Dr. Barbara König  (
Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
University of Zurich

Professor Barbara König is Managing Director of the Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich. She  is interested in factors that promote and stabilise social interactions in mammals. She aims to understand the evolution of social behaviour as well as how interactions with conspecifics structure groups and populations, processes also relevant for conservation. Working both in the field and in the laboratory, her group uses behavioural, ecological, physiological and molecular genetic methods, to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the causes and consequences of social behaviour.  

Dr. Sonja Koski
Finnish Centre of Excellence in Intersubjectivity in Interaction
University of Helsinki

Sonja Koski is currently working as a Marie Curie Fellow in Helsinki, investigating the developmental and evolutionary foundations of human intersubjectivity. The project addresses empathy in young human infants and in marmoset monkeys. She also continues with the long-running project on primate personality, addressing it from the mechanisms to outcomes. Other aspects of interest include social relationships, emotions, and cognition in primates and other social organisms.

Foto: Daniel Zupanc

Priv.-Doz. Dr. Friederike Range (
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna

Being interested in the evolution of human cognitive abilities, Range has mainly investigated the social cognition of non-human animals by integrating psychological and biological approaches, both from a theoretical and a methodological perspective. She has been focusing mainly on questions related to the psychological abilities individuals require to solve problems in their daily life with others and the types of mental representations underlying these abilities. In particular, Range has been investigating social complexity as a driving force for mental evolution, with an emphasis on the possibility of a convergent evolution of cognitive traits in phylogenetically distant but socio-ecologically similar species. Social canines are an ideal model to answer these questions as 1) they are renowned for highly cooperative interactions with their pack mates (e.g. wolves) as well as interactions with humans (domestic dogs) and 2) although wolves and dogs are closely related, they are adapted to very different environments with wolves living as a family unit and cooperating with one another similar to humans in early hunter-gatherer societies, whereas dogs are domesticated and live as a member of human families in our ‘modern’ society. By establishing the Wolf Science Center, Range has been able to focus on the effects domestication has brought about on dog’s cognitive abilities. The establishment of the Clever Dog Lab has allowed her to investigate in more detail dogs’ ability to function in the human-animal bond.

Prof. Ben Sheldon
University of Oxford

Professor Ben Sheldon is the Director of the Edward Grey Institute in the Department of Zoology. He has broad interests at the interface of behaviour, ecology and evolution and his current research projects address the interaction between social and ecological structure and the flow of information in wild populations, and the evolution and ecology of phenotypic plasticity. Both projects are pursued in the context of a long-term population study of tits near Oxford.


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