Centre for Behaviour and Evolution

Staff Profile

Professor Candy Rowe

Professor of Animal Behaviour and Cognition, Dean of Research Culture and Strategy

Background

I am Professor of Animal Behaviour and Cognition and Dean of Research Culture and Strategy at Newcastle University. I arrived in Newcastle in 1998, first as a Sir James Knott Fellow, and then a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow, before being appointed as a lecturer in 2005. My expertise lie in animal behaviour and cognition, with particularly interests in how cognitive processes influence the evolution of animal communication and coloration, and how we can use cognition and behaviour to study animal emotion and improve animal welfare. I set-up and co-directed the Centre for Behaviour and Evolution in 2007, which has successfully built new and interdisciplinary collaborations between researchers interested in behaviour from across the university.

On top of enjoying my research at the interface between psychology and evolutionary biology, I am passionate about supporting people's careers and seeing them develop and succeed, and am a strong advocate for equality, diversity, inclusion (EDI) in the research environment. Prior to taking up my current university role as Dean of Research Culture and Strategy, I have been Chair of NU Women (our staff network for women across the institution), and Director of EDI for my Faculty, where I led a team that achieved our first faculty-wide Athena SWAN Silver Award. I am currently Co-Chair of the University's 'For Families' project to make the University more family friendly, and co-lead a Wellcome Trust funded project to build an EDI Toolkit for research leaders. I also actively support career development of colleagues and students, through mentoring and career conversations, both inside and outside of Newcastle. Until recently, I was also Director of the Newcastle University Academic Track (NUAcT) Fellowship Scheme, which is an investment of £30M to appoint around 100 new fellows over five years (2019-2023), and support their professional development. I continue to have oversight of the scheme in my new role, as well as responsibility for developing our supportive and inclusive research culture, and embedding new ways of thinking into how we do research.

Research

Research Interests

I work on the sensory and cognitive processes of animals in an evolutionary context. During my PhD training, I developed an interest in 'multimodal communication', where information is transferred between animals in more than one sensory modality. By studying the multimodal warning signals of toxic insect prey to their avian predators, I showed how cognitive systems can select for combinations of visual signals with olfactory and/or acoustic components: multimodal signals can be more effective at getting a message across. More recently, my research has focussed on how predators make optimal foraging decisions when faced with a variety of palatable and toxic prey, and the implications of these decision-making processes on the evolution of prey defence strategies. I have also explored what makes an effective warning signals, and how high contrast patterning could be an effective form of camouflage for moving prey.

I apply my expertise in animal cognition and behaviour to think about the evolution of cognition and the brain, and to address important questions in animal welfare. I am particularly interested in laboratory animal welfare, and how to best measure the welfare of rodents and primates and improve experimental protocols and husbandry procedures.

I am also actively conduct research relating to advancing equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in an academic context. Projects I am leading or contributing to involve those on unconscious bias, reward and recognition for EDI roles, and developing an EDI toolkit for research leaders.

My work has been supported by the BBSRC, NERC, NC3Rs, the Royal Society, the Wellcome Trust and the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.


External Activities

Grant Panel membership: I am currently Deputy Chair of BBSRC Committee A (2019-2022). Previously, I have served on the NC3Rs Grant Panel (2013-2015), BBSRC Committee A (2014-2016), BBSRC Training Awards Committee (2010-2012), a Norwegian Research Council (2013-15, Chair from 2014); BBSRC CASE Studentship Panel (2013). I also currently sit on the BBSRC People and Talent Strategy Advisory Panel.

Editorships: Most recently, I have been an Associate Editor for the Proceedings of the Royal Society B (2015-2017), but I have also been an Editor for Behavioral Ecology (2008-2013), and a Guest Editor for Behavioral Processes 'Cognition in the Wild' (Special Issue, 2014).

Other activities: I was Secretary for the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (2007-2012). I have sat on Athena SWAN Assessment Committees, and review Athena SWAN applications for UK institutions, and regularly speak about EDI and research culture. I have also recently become our institutional lead for the UK Reproducibility Network (UKRN).


Teaching

I currently contribute seminars and tutor students on the MRes in Animal Behaviour. I also offer undergraduate and MRes projects on a wide range of topics in animal behaviour and welfare.

Publications