Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Yvan Russell in Göttingen

Yvan Russell updates us on his visit to Göttingen:

I recently visited the University of Göttingen in Germany. This is where I was employed as a postdoctoral research fellow between May 2012 and April 2013. During that time, I was a member of the Courant Research Centre in the Evolution of Social Behaviour (CRC-ESB, see  In Germany, research centres are often funded on a finite term. Hence, the CRC-ESB existed for six years and now it is due to close later this year. They were a very productive interdisciplinary entity comprising developmental, social and evolutionary psychologists, primatologists, behavioural economists, computer scientists, and biologists.  I worked with Prof. Dirk Semmann in his behavioural economics laboratory, where we were specifically interested in evolutionary issues. The CRC-ESB was an exciting and dynamic place to work, where some truly innovative work has been done. In May 2014, I revisited the laboratory for one of its final weeks of existence. This gave me the opportunity to collect a substantial amount of material which I will be able to write up as publications.  Furthermore, the visit gave me clarity on the future directions for this research and where I can pursue future associations and collaborations. Finally, it gave me an opportunity to say a proper goodbye to a workplace and city which I had really grown to love. Then, in June, I visited Göttingen once again because they had invited me to the symposium to mark the end of the CRC-ESB.  This was an academic conference, with attendance by invitation only. Here, the mind-boggling diversity of the research was presented over the course of two days. Speakers were a mixture of staff, students, and postdocs of the CRC-ESB, as well as some very prestigious external speakers. It would take too long to convey the intellectually enriching and fascinating talks and people that I met during these two days. One of my longer term goals is to try to recreate this kind of intellectual environment here at Middlesex University. I will maintain links to Göttingen University and other centres of excellence and this will help us to lay the groundwork for this kind of centre right here in Hendon.

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