Elena Zwirner is a behavioural ecologist with a multidisciplinary background spanning from ecology, ethology, psychology and anthropology. Her research interests lie primarily in understanding how the environment (social and physical) influences behaviour. She has worked on the environmental factors affecting dispersal in cooperative breeding mammals and birds; on the social learning mechanisms underpinning cumulative culture; and on the effects of city-living on prosociality and trust in humans. Elena just started her first post-doc at the LAPSCO CNRS, Université Clermont Auvergne (UCA) where she works with Guillaume Dezecache on the effects of living under environmental uncertainty on trust and prosociality. Her project will look at whether life near active volcanoes affects the development of interpersonal trust and prosocial behaviour. In particular, she will look at the impact that risk perception has on different cognitive skills and on social tolerance.
As a child, I was often teased by my brother for my attempts at scientific theorizing. I particularly remember one time when I was looking at ants tandem-running and I said to myself “they’re probably on their way to school” […]