Research Goals

Cognition, a suite of neural processes including decision-making, learning, and memory, determines how individuals interact with their environment, and therefore impacts on a range of ecological and evolutionary processes. The major goal of my research is to understand how cognitive processes are shaped by natural selection. My research is focused on avian foraging and social behaviour, using experiments in the field and in aviaries, as well as comparative methods. I am also currently developing insect study systems (Gryllus spp.). I use an integrated approach, drawing from behavioural ecology, evolutionary ecology and experimental psychology.

Curriculum Vitae

1998-2001: B.Sc. Biologie, Université Laval, Canada
2001-2006: Ph.D. Biology, McGill University, Canada
2007-2009: Postdoc, Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada
2009-2012: Postdoc, EGI, University of Oxford, United Kingdom
2012-Now: Assistant Professor, Biology, University of Ottawa, Canada


I gave an interview for a blog on Scientific American, by Dr Felicity Muth:

2 papers out in Animal Behaviour from Master theses in the lab:

- ''Personality does not predict social dominance in wild groups of black-capped chickadees''
by Isabelle Devost, Teri Jones, Maxime Cauchoix, Chloé Montreuil-Spencer, Julie Morand-Ferron.

- ''Male experience buffers female laying date plasticity in a winter-breeding, food-storing passerine'', by Shannon Whelan, Dan Srickland, Julie Morand-Ferron, Ryan Norris.

Out in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: 'Innovation in animals and humans: understanding the origins and development of novel and creative behaviour', edited by Simon Reader, Emma Flynn, Julie Morand-Ferron and Kevin Laland.

The first research article on the portable learning box is out! Read the article and watch short videos of birds using the box in the wild (Wytham woods, Oxford, UK):

Human Frontiers Grant (2015-2019): This is a new international collaboration on the evolution of learning in wild great tits, Moulis, France. Research topics include: links between personality, sociality, and cognition; measuring cognition in the wild; and fitness consequences of individual variation in learning rates.

Nature paper out: Aplin, Farine, Morand-Ferron, Thornton, Cockburn & Sheldon 2015:

Related interview at CBC's Quirks & Quarks:

Join the lab:

Applications for graduate positions and postdocs: please send a cover letter explaining why you would like to conduct research in my lab, along with your cv and an unofficial transcript. Applications for PhDs are especially welcome: funding is available via my Early Career Research Award (funding dedicated to graduate students and postdoc salaries, as well as outreach, 2016-2021), Human Frontiers Science Program, and NSERC Discovery Grant. All graduate students at the Department receive an annual salary of 19500$, in addition to a tuition fee waiver for Canadian applicants with >80% in their last 2 academic years.

Please also feel free to contact me to apply for a graduate position (funding also available) for collaborative projects with:
- Dr Alexis Chaine, CNRS: fitness consequences of individual variation in learning ability in great tits
- Dr Sue Bertram, Carleton: sexual selection and cognitive abilities in crickets

I also welcome applications from undergraduates interested in a Honours project (2017-2018).

Vous pouvez communiquer avec moi en anglais ou en français.