Dr Rachael Miller (Harrison)

Lecturer in Biology (Animal Behaviour)

Faculty:Faculty of Science and Engineering

School:Life Sciences

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: Animal and environmental biology

Research Supervision:Yes

Rachael is a comparative psychologist and behavioural ecologist, with expertise in animal cognition, behaviour, welfare and conservation, and child development. She is broadly interested in the evolution of cognition, using comparative, ecological and developmental approaches primarily in birds and children, with a highly productive academic output and teaching record.

rachael.harrison@aru.ac.uk

Website: www.drrachaelmiller.com

Twitter: Dr_RMiller

ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Rachael-Miller-5

ORCID: 0000-0003-2996-9571

Background

Rachael joined ARU in December 2021. Rachael has had three Research Associate roles at Cambridge University in Prof Nicky Clayton’s Lab & Dr Lucy Cheke’s Lab, with a PhD at Vienna University with Prof Thomas Bugnyar & Dr Christine Schwab, MSc at St Andrews University with Prof Andy Whiten & MA at Glasgow University. Additionally, Rachael was a Animal Keeper & Avian Research Coordinator at Royal Zoological Society of Scotland.

Rachael’s current PI research is: Cognition in Animal Conservation (applying cognition research to avian conservation initiatives) & the ManyBirds Project (a big-team Open Science project on avian cognition & behaviour).

Research interests

  • Animal Cognition and Behaviour
  • Conservation Behaviour (also Cognition in Conservation)
  • Comparative Psychology
  • Big-team Science and Open Science (e.g. www.themanybirds.com)
  • Child Development
  • Behavioural Ecology
  • Animal Welfare (including husbandry, enrichment, training)

Areas of research supervision

Rachael welcomes enquiries from prospective research students in the areas of her research interests. She has previously supervised BSc, MSc and PhD students, as well as Junior Researchers and Research Assistants, in all of the above research areas.

Teaching

  • BSc (Hons) Animal Behaviour

Qualifications

  • PhD in Cognitive Biology, University of Vienna, Austria
  • MSc in Evolutionary and Comparative Psychology, University of St Andrews, UK
  • MA (Undergraduate) with Hons in Psychology, University of Glasgow, UK
  • Advanced National Certificate in Zoo Animal Management, Sparsholt College, UK

Memberships, editorial boards

  • Membership: Association of Animal Behaviour, International Society for Behavioural Ecology, Royal Society for Protection of Birds, ARU School Research Ethics Panel committee
  • Ad hoc reviewer for journals: inc Cognition, Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology, Biology Letters, Learning & Behaviour, Animal Cognition, American Journal of Primatology, Behavioural Processes, Peer J, Frontiers in Zoology, Ethology, Wilson Journal of Ornithology, Behavior, European Journal of Wildlife Research, Journal of Veterinary Behavior, Animal Behavior & Cognition
  • Guest Editor, Frontiers in Psychology special issue (2022)

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

Consultancy: Independent Contractor (Researcher, Animal Welfare Project), Rethink Priorities, 2021

Funding:

  • Principal Investigator, Career Support Fund, Cambridge University, £5,000, 2021
  • Named Co-applicant, India-Oxford Initiative (awarded to Dr Nishant Kumar), Global Challenge Research Fund: £5,000, 2021
  • Isaac Newton Trust 50% matched funding for Early Career Leverhulme Fellowship (shortlisted from 700+ applicants for Leverhulme Fellowship), £50,000, 2021 and 2019
  • Named Co-applicant (with Prof Clayton) in securing funds to support lab avian research facility, Cambridge University, £50,000, 2021
  • Lead role in securing 12-month project extension supporting 6 staff members, European Research Council & University of Cambridge, €600,000, 2019
  • Marietta Blau Grant Holder (awarded to me but not taken up as accepted Cambridge University Postdoctoral post), Austrian Ministry of Science, Research and Economy, €15,000, 2015
  • Dissertation Completion Fellowship Holder (awarded to me but not taken up as accepted Cambridge University Postdoctoral post), University of Vienna, €6,000, 2015

Selected recent publications

Miller, R., Schiestl, M., Clayton, N.S. (Accepted) Book Chapter: Welfare in Corvids. 9th Ed of Universities Federation for Animal Welfare Handbook on Care and Management of Laboratory and Other Research Animals. Wiley (12,060 words)

Garcia-Pelegrin, E., Clark, F.,Miller, R.. (2022). Increasing the animal cognition research in zoos. Zoo Biology DOI: 10.1002/zoo.21674

Lambert, M., Reber, S., Garcia-Pelegrin, E., Farrar, B.,Miller, R.. (2022). ManyBirds: A multi-site collaborative approach to avian cognition and behaviour research. Animal Behavior & Cognition, 9(1), pp. 133-152

Miller, R., Lambert, M., Frohnweiser, A., Brecht, K., Bugnyar, T., Crampton, I., Garcia-Pelegrin, E., Gould, K., Greggor, A., Izawa, E., Kelly, D., Li, Z., Luo, Y., Luong, L., Massen, J., Nieder, A., Reber, S., Schiestl, M., Sepehri, P., Stevens, J., Taylor, A.H., Wang, L., Wolff, L.M., Zhang, Y., Clayton, N.S. (2021). Socio-ecological correlates of neophobia in corvids. Current Biology, 32(1), pp. 74-85, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2021.10.045

Ding, N., Frohnwieser, A., *Miller, R., *Clayton, N.S. (* = joint senior authorship) (2021). Waiting for a better reward: comparison of delay of gratification in young children across two cultures. PLoS ONE, 16(9), e0256966

Boeckle, M., Schiestl, M., Frohnwieser, A., Gruber, R., Miller, R., Suddendorf, T., Gray, R.D., Taylor, A.H., Clayton, N.S. (2021) New Caledonian crows' planning behaviour: a reply to de Mahy, Don et al. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 202111271

Boeckle, M., Schiestl, M., Frohnwieser, A., Gruber, R., Miller, R., Suddendorf, T., Gray, R.D., Taylor, A.H., Clayton, N.S. (2020) New Caledonian crows flexibly plan for specific future tool use. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 287, 20201490

Miller, R. & Gruber, R., Frohnwieser, A., Schiestl, M., Jelbert, S.A., Gray, R.D., Boeckle, M., Taylor, A.H., Clayton, N.S. (2020) Decision-making flexibility in New Caledonian crows, young children and adult humans in a multi-dimensional tool-use task. PLoS ONE, 15, e0219874

Miller, R., Frohnwieser, A., Ding, N., Troisi, C., Schiestl, M., Gruber, R., Taylor, A.H., Gray, R.D., Jelbert, S.A., Boeckle, M., Clayton, N.S. (2020) A novel test of flexible planning in relating to executive function and language in young children. Royal Society Open Science, 7, pp. 71-85

Kövér, L. & Lengyel, S., Takenaka, M., Kirchmeir, A., Uhl, F., Miller, R., Schwab, C. (2019) Why do zoos attract crows? A comparative study from Europe and Asia. Ecology & Evolution, 9, pp. 14465-14475

Miller, R., Frohnwieser, A., Schiestl, M., McCoy, D.E., Gray, R.D., Taylor, A.H., Clayton, N.S. (2019) Delayed gratification in New Caledonian crows and young children: influence of reward type and visibility. Animal Cognition, 1-15, doi: 10.1007/s10071-019-01317-7

Miller, R., Boeckle, M., Frohnwieser, A., Jelbert, S.A., Wascher, C.A.F., Clayton, N.S. (2019) Self-control in crows, parrots and non-human primates. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, 10, e1504

Gruber, R., Schiestl, M., Boeckle, M., Frohnwieser, A., Miller, R., Gray, R.D., Clayton, N.S., Taylor, A.H. (2019) New Caledonian crows use mental representations to solve metatool problems. Current Biology, 29, pp. 686-692

Jelbert, S.A., Miller, R., Schiestl, M., Boeckle, M., Cheke, L.G., Gray, R.D., Taylor, A.H., Clayton, N.S. (2019) New Caledonian crows infer the weight of objects from their movements in a breeze. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 20182332

Uhl, F., Ringler, M., Miller, R., Deventer, S., Bugnyar, T., Schwab, C. (2018) Counting crows: population structure and group size variation in an urban population of crows. Behavioural Ecology, ary 157

Miller, R., Jelbert, S.A., Loissel, E., Taylor, A.H., Clayton, N.S. (2017) Young children do not require perceptual-motor feedback to solve Aesop’s Fable tasks. Peer J, 5, e3483

Davidson, G., Miller, R., Loissel, E., Cheke, L.G., Clayton, N.S. (2017) The development of support intuitions and object causality in juvenile Eurasian jays. Scientific Reports, 7, 40062

Miller, R., Jelbert, S.A., Taylor, A.H., Cheke, L.G., Gray, R.D., Loissel, E., Clayton, N.S. (2016) Performance in object-choice Aesop’s Fable tasks are influenced by object biases in New Caledonian crows but not in human children. PLoS ONE,11, e0168056

Miller, R., Logan, C.J., Lister, K., Clayton, N.S. (2016). Eurasian jays do not copy the choices of conspecifics, but they do show evidence of stimulus enhancement. Peer J, 4, e2746

Deventer, S.A., Uhl, F., Bugnyar, T., Miller, R., Fitch, W.T., Schiestl, M., Ringler, M., Schwab, C. (2016) Behavioural type affects space use in a wild population of crows. Ethology, 122, pp. 881-891

Miller, R., Schwab, C., Bugnyar, T. (2016) Explorative innovators and flexible use of social information in common ravens and carrion crows. Journal of Comparative Psychology, doi:10.1037/com0000039

Miller, R., Laskowski, K.L., Schiestl, M., Bugnyar, T., Schwab, C. (2016) Socially driven consistent behavioural differences during development in common ravens and carrion crows. PLoS ONE, 11, e0148822

Miller, R., Bugnyar, T., Pölzl, K., Schwab, C. (2015) Differences in exploration behaviour in common ravens and carrion crows during development and across social context. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 69, pp. 1209-20

Taylor, A.H., Cheke, L.G., Waismeyer, A., Meltzoff, A., Miller, R., Gopnik, A., Clayton, N.S., Gray, R.D. (2015) No conclusive evidence that corvids can create novel causal interventions. Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 282, 20150796

Knaebe, B., Taylor, A.H., Miller, R., Gray, R.D. (2015) New Caledonian crows attend to barb presence during Pandanus tool manufacture and use. Behaviour, doi:10.1163/1568539X-00003316

Miller, R., Schiestl, M., Whiten, A., Schwab, C., Bugnyar, T. (2014) Tolerance and social facilitation in the foraging behaviour of free-ranging crows. Ethology, 120, pp. 1248-1255

Taylor, A.H., Cheke, L.G., Waismeyer, A., Meltzoff, A., Miller, R., Gopnik, A., Clayton, N.S., Gray, R.D. (2014) Of babies and birds: complex tool behaviours are not sufficient for the evolution of the ability to create a causal intervention. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 281. 20140837

Taylor, A.H., Miller, R., Gray, R.D. (2013) Clear evidence of habituation counters counterbalancing. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110, e337

Taylor, A.H., Miller, R., Gray, R.D. (2013) The devil is unlikely to be association or distraction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110, e274

Miller, R., King, C.E. (2013) Husbandry training, using positive reinforcement techniques, for Marabou stork at Edinburgh Zoo. International Zoo Yearbook, 47, pp. 171-180

Taylor, A.H., Miller, R., Gray, R.D. (2012) New Caledonian crows reason about hidden causal agents. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109, pp. 16389-16391

Dufour, V., Wascher, C., Braun, A., Miller, R., Bugnyar, T. (2011) Time is money: Corvids can decide if a future transaction is worth waiting for. Biology Letters, 23, pp. 201-204

Recent presentations and conferences

Anglia Ruskin University, Biology Seminar Series (2022 - invited talk), Employability Seminar (2022 - invited talk), Conservation Behaviour Teaching Outline (2021 - invited talk); University of Cambridge, Research Staff Symposium (2021 - talk); University of Cambridge, Comparative Cognition Lab Meeting (2021, 2016 - talks); Animal Behaviour Society twitter conference (2021 - virtual attendance); Association for Study of Animal Behaviour (2020 - virtual attendance; 2015 - attendance), British Psychological Society (2018, 2019 - talks), European Conference for Behavioural Biology (2018 - poster; 2014 - talk), International Ethological Conference (2017; 2013 - posters), International Society for Behavioural Ecology (2014 - talk), Evolutionary Significance of Consistent Behavioural Variation (2014 - talk), Comparative Cognition (2013 - talk), Corvid symposium (2012 - poster)

Media experience

Rachael is active in scientific outreach. She has been interviewed by the media and/or had her research featured on several occasions, including Le Monde, New Scientist, National Geographic, Psychology Today, Science Alert, Cell, Inverse and Ethologische.