School of Psychology

Staff Profiles

Dr Tom Smulders

Senior Lecturer

Background

Background

Tom Smulders was born near Antwerp, Belgium and grew up in Brecht, Belgium.

 

Qualifications

2003-2005 Post-Graduate Certificate in Academic Practice, Newcastle University, UK

1992-1998 Ph.D. in Biopsychology at Cornell University, USA. (Supervisor: Prof. Timothy J. DeVoogd)

1990-1992 MSc in Zoology at Antwerp University, Belgium

1988-1990 BSc in Biology at Antwerp University, Belgium

 

Roles and Responsibilities

2016-present Chair of the Equality and Diversity Committee of the Institute of Neuroscience

2014-present Director of the Centre for Behaviour and Evolution

2008-2015 Chair of the Seminar Committee of the Institute of Neuroscience

Esteem Indicators

2016-2017: Guest Editor of a Special Issue on "The Hippocampus: Questions of Homology" in Brain, Behaviour and Evolution

2012-2014: Grant panel member of the FWO (Flanders, Belgium)-Biodiversity & Ecology (Bio3)

2010-present: Editorial Board of Brain, Behaviour & Evolution

2008-present: Reviewing Editor of Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience

2008-2009 Guest Editor of a Special Issue on “Integrating Ecology, Psychology, and Neurobiology Within a Food-hoarding Paradigm” in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B

2008-2009 Guest Editor of a Special Feature on “Brain Evolution” in Biology Letters

2008-2013 Editorial Board of Biology Letters (Royal Society of London)

2007 Invited participant in the INCF Workshop on Neuroanatomical Nomenclature and Taxonomy

2006-present Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

1992-1993 Philips Fellow of the Belgian American Educational Foundation (BAEF)

Previous Positions

2000-2002 Post-doctoral researcher, Department of Neurobiology, Duke University Medical Center, USA (Supervisor: Prof. Erich D. Jarvis)

1998-2000 Post-doctoral researcher, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, USA (Supervisor: Prof. Robert E. Hampson)

Memberships

Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour
British Neuroscience Association
Experimental Psychology Society
International Society for Neuroethology
J.B. Johnston Club (Comparative Vertebrate Neuroanatomy)
Natural History Society of Northumbria

Languages

Fluent in spoken and written Dutch
Fluent in spoken and written English
Fluent in spoken and written French
Reading and conversational skills in German
Notions of Italian and Latin

Informal Interests

Ballroom Dancing; Science Fiction and Fantasy

Research

Research Interests

I am interested in how evolution modifies the brain (or particular brain areas), and how this relates to the behaviours in which these areas are involved. We study this at two levels: macro-evolutionary and micro-evolutionary.

On the macro-evolutionary level, we are interested in how brain areas conserve their function (or converge on similar functions) over deep evolutionary time. In particular, we study the hippocampal formation of birds and mammals, and investigate how two very differently-organized structures (at least at first glance) perform such similar functions. We are also applying what we learn about these similarities to developing novel animal welfare measures.

On a more micro-evolutionary level, we are interested in how brain structures change in closely related species with the evolution of novel behaviours. For this, we compare food-hoarding birds to closely-related non-hoarding birds. We are interested in two aspects of this brain/behaviour system: how did hoarding behaviour evolve and how did spatial memory mechanisms adapt to a food-hoarding life style.

 

 

Teaching

Undergraduate Teaching

PSY2007 Biological Psychology: Sex, Drugs, Rhythms and Blues

PSY2011 Methods in Psychology 2B - using statistics for testing hypotheses

PSY2015 Introduction to Professional Skills

PSY3097 Undergraduate Research Projects in Psychology

Postgraduate Teaching

MMB8003 The Biological Study of Behaviour

MMB8043 Comparative Cognition

Publications