Universiteit Leiden

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Kiki Spoelstra

Self Funded Phd Candidate / Guest

Name
K.E. Spoelstra
Telephone
+31 71 527 2727
E-mail
k.e.spoelstra@fsw.leidenuniv.nl

Kiki Spoelstra is a PhD candidate at the CoPAN lab of the unit Cognitive Psychology. Her research focusses on communication, socio-cognitive functioning, and emotional expression in felids. By including species that greatly differ in their degree of sociality, she aims to further investigate how social cognition evolved.

More information about Kiki Spoelstra

Kiki Spoelstra is a PhD candidate at the CoPAN lab of the unit Cognitive Psychology. Her research focusses on communication, socio-cognitive functioning, and emotional expression in felids. By including species that greatly differ in their degree of sociality, she aims to further investigate how social cognition evolved.

Research on social cognition in felids

For all animals, communication between conspecifics is crucial for survival. While most felids are solitary living and strongly territorial, they are no exception. In this PhD project, Spoelstra will investigate how felids use different sensory cues to communicate and process social information, such as relatedness, reproductive state, and emotional state. 

Furthermore, she aims to assess the socio-cognitive capabilities of felids by developing tests that take their distinct sensory world into account. She hopes to introduce new methods for cognitive testing that can be used for a variety of animals, including those that perceive the world differently than us humans. By including a more diverse range of animal species in cognitive research, we may gain more insight in the evolution of social cognition.

Short CV

Kiki Spoelstra obtained her bachelor's degree in Biology at the University of Groningen, where she already developed a great interest in behaviour and neurosciences. In 2019, she decided to further specialize in animal behaviour and she moved to Linköping, Sweden to do her research master's in Applied Ethology and Animal Biology. For her thesis, she studied lateralized behaviour in white-handed gibbons (Hylobates lar) in five different zoos in Sweden and the Netherlands..

After obtaining her master’s degree in Sweden, Spoelstra started working at Ouwehands Zoo in Rhenen, where she is currently still employed as a research biologist. As of August 2023, she has started combining her job at the zoo with her PhD project at Leiden University’s CoPAN lab. Under Dr. Mariska Kret, she will work on her PhD project on social cognition in felids.

Self Funded Phd Candidate / Guest

  • Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen
  • Instituut Psychologie
  • Cognitieve Psychologie

Work address

Pieter de la Court
Wassenaarseweg 52
2333 AK Leiden

Contact

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