My broad biological interests lie in how evolution has shaped the form and behaviours of animals. However, I also have a general interest in how we can best model the complexities of the natural world in a manner that is both simple and empirically testable. My current research centres around camouflage, animal colouration and vision; thus allowing me to straddle the boundary between biology and psychology.
After studying for my undergraduate degree in Animal Behaviour, I crossed the border into psychology for my PhD. This led me on a journey into the world of vision and psychophysics. For my PhD I used psychophysics experiments with human participants to establish whether naturally occurring camouflage strategies such as background matching and disruptive colouration can provide an advantage to objects when they are moving as well as when they are stationary. I found that such strategies cannot prevent detection or capture of a moving object but, under conditions where there are similarly patterned distractors present, they can slow down the process of identification through an enhancement of the confusion effect (Hall et al, 2013).
For my current research we are using psychophysics techniques to address a different camouflage strategy: dazzle patterns. These are high contrast geometric patterns that have been suggested to disrupt the perception of range, heading, size, shape and speed. In this project we are particularly interested in whether adaptive striped patterns are able to distort speed perception under both neutral and stressful situations.
I studied for my undergraduate degree at the University of Sheffield, graduating in 2008 with a first-class BSc in Animal Behaviour. During my time in Sheffield I worked with Prof. Tim Birkhead in collaboration with Prof. Tore Slagsvold (University of Oslo) looking at the barriers to hybridisation in blue tits and great tits. At the end of my second year I was awarded a Nuffield scholarship to continue this research over the summer break. My undergraduate project was based in the same lab, investigating whether there was a correlation between sperm head size and extra pair paternity in passerine birds. I also completed a third-year dissertation, supervised by Prof. Ben Hatchwell, entitled 'Is there evidence for causal reasoning in non-human animals?'.
After my undergraduate degree I moved to Bristol and completed my Ph.D investigating whether it is possible to camouflage moving objects. I was jointly supervised by Dr. Roland Baddeley (Experimental Psychology), Dr. Nick Scott-Samuel (Experimental Psychology), Prof. Innes Cuthill (Biological Sciences) and Dr. Adam Shohet (QinetiQ). The project was supported by a CASE Studentship funded by the EPSRC and QinetiQ.
I then worked on a one-year, DSTL funded project with Dr. Nick Scott-Samuel, Prof. Marcus Munafo, Dr. Roland Baddeley and Prof. Innes Cuthill investigating the effects of standard and adaptive dazzle camouflage on perceived speed in neutral and stressful situations.
View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system
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