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Betsy Herrelko

PhD Psychology

My training within Psychology at the University of Stirling has set me up for career success: My PhD advisors continue to be my mentors and collaborators on publications and just as when I was a student, I continue to receive great support from the departmental staff and the entire Scottish Primate Research Group community. As a postgraduate student, I was primarily based out of Edinburgh Zoo, but always had a home in the Psychology department. In addition to departmental events, the weekly BERG meetings helped strengthen relationships and keep everyone in the know about the successes as well as challenges everyone might have been facing. Between the staff and students, I have made life-long friendships that go beyond far beyond planning research methods and editing documents together.

Since graduating, I moved to Washington DC, USA to work at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo as a post-doctoral research fellow. My research (in collaboration with Hannah Buchanan-Smith and Sarah-Jane Vick) focuses on cognitive bias in gorillas and orangutans. By studying how emotional affect influences the decisions that gorillas and orangutans make, we aim to understand more about the great ape mind and to use that information to help inform animal management practices.

Being a part of Psychology at Stirling not only helped me get my foot in the door of new opportunities, but lent me their reputation of excellence in research, dissemination, and interpersonal skills. Now that I am taking the skills I learned at Stirling to international organisations, it's my turn to live up to their well-rounded status and help add to their reputation of excellence.

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