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Department of Psychology

Biography

My research through Principal Investigator & Visiting Researcher (Cambridge University, 2021-date), Postdoc (Cambridge University, 2015-2021), PhD (Vienna University, 2012-2016), Research Assistant (Auckland University, 2011; Edinburgh Zoo roles, 2008-2010) and MSc (St Andrews University, 2010-2011) posts has focused on examining the evolution of cognition, primarily in birds and humans. My research has resulted in a productive academic output, taking account of 2-years of maternity leave and part-time working: 30 publications, with an h-index of 14 and 736 citations.

In parallel, I have a strong background of skills, knowledge and practical experience in animal care, welfare, training and conservation, for instance, through my roles at Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) Edinburgh Zoo as Avian Research Coordinator, Animal Keeper and Animal Trainer, including a conservation trip to Uganda, education trip to Zambia, and Animal Management degree.

For more information: www.drrachaelmiller.com

Research

Cognition in Animal Conservation | Comparative Psychology | Child Development

I am currently a Principal Investigator (PI), Visiting Researcher and Temporary Lecturer at the Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge. I am broadly interested in the evolution of cognition, using comparative, ecological and developmental approaches. As PI, I am leading two independent projects: 1. Cognition in Animal Conservation (applying cognition research to conservation initiatives in a critically endangered bird species); 2. ManyBirds project, with a core team of early career researchers, establishing a multi-site collaborative project on avian cognition/ behaviour research. My Postdoc research at Cambridge University focused on testing cognition in humans (children and adults) and corvids (crow family), with a particular focus on self-control, behavioural flexibility, responses to novelty, social learning and reasoning about cause and effect. Key aspects of my PhD in Cognitive Biology from the University of Vienna involved highlighting the critical role of individual differences, social context and development on cognition in wild and captive corvids.

I advocate Open Science practices, including publishing all data-sets associated with my papers, and (from Nov 2018) I pre-register my studies.

My website: www.drrachaelmiller.com

Publications

Key publications: 

SUBMITTED/ PRE-PRINTS

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, Neider A, Reber S, Schiestl M, Sepehri P, Stevens J, Taylor AH, Wang L, Wolff LM, Zhang Y, Clayton NS (2021). A multi-lab collaboration on neophobia in corvids. Provisional acceptance in Current Biology. Available in pre-print BioRxiv: https://biorxiv.org/cgi/content/short/2021.07.27.453788v1

Ding N, *Miller R, *Clayton NS (* = joint senior authorship) (Submitted). Inhibition and cognitive flexibility are related to prediction of one's own future preference in young British and Chinese children. Cognition. Pre-print PsyArXiv: https://psyarxiv.com/ezv76

ACCEPTED/ IN PRESS

Lambert M, Reber S, Garcia-Pelegrin E, Farrar B, Miller R (2021). ManyBirds: A multi-site collaborative approach to avian cognition and behaviour research. Accepted in Animal Behavior and Cognition. Available in pre-print Psyarxiv: https://psyarxiv.com/83xkt

Miller R, Schiestl M, Clayton NS. (In Press) Chapter: Welfare in Corvids. 9th Ed of Universities Federation for Animal Welfare Handbook on Care and Management of Laboratory and Other Research Animals. Wiley

PUBLICATIONS

Ding N, Frohnwieser A, *Miller R, *Clayton NS (* = joint senior authorship) (2021). Waiting for a better reward: comparison of delay of gratification in young children across two cultures. PLoS ONE https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0256966

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

Miller R, Frohnwieser A, Ding N, Troisi C, Schiestl M, Gruber R, Taylor, AH, Jelbert, SA, Boeckle M, Clayton NS (2020) A novel test of flexible planning in relation to executive function and language in young children. Royal Society Open Science 7: 71-85

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

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 and Evolution 00: 1-11

Miller R, Frohnwieser A, Schiestl M, McCoy DE, Gray RD, Taylor AH, Clayton NS. (2019) Delayed gratification in New Caledonian crows and young children: influence of reward type and visibility. Animal Cognition doi: 10.1007/s10071-019-01317-7

Miller R, Boeckle M, Frohnwieser A, Jelbert SA, Wascher, CAF, Clayton NS. (2019) Self-control in crows, parrots and non-human primates. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science e1504

Gruber R, Schiestl M, Boeckle M, Frohnwieser A, Miller R, Gray RD, Clayton NS, Taylor AH. (2019) New Caledonian crows use mental representations to solve metatool problems. Current Biology 29: 686-692

Jelbert SA, Miller R, Schiestl M, Boeckle M, Cheke LG, Gray RD, Taylor AH, Clayton NS. (2019) New Caledonian crows infer the weight of objects from their movements in a breeze. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 286: 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 SA, Loissel E, Taylor AH, Clayton NS (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 LG, Clayton NS (2017) The development of support intuitions and object causality in juvenile Eurasian jays. Scientific Reports 7:40062

Miller R, Jelbert SA, Taylor AH, Cheke LG, Gray RD, Loissel E, Clayton NS (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 CJ, Lister K, Clayton NS (2016). Eurasian jays do not copy the choices of conspecifics, but they do show evidence of stimulus enhancement. Peer J 4:e2746

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

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 KL, 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 69:1209-20

Taylor AH, Cheke LG, Waismeyer A, Meltzoff A, Miller R, Gopnik A, Clayton NS, Gray RD (2015) No conclusive evidence that corvids can create novel causal interventions. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 282:20150796

Knaebe B, Taylor AH, Miller R, Gray RD (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 120:1248-1255

Taylor AH, Cheke LG, Waismeyer A, Meltzoff A, Miller R, Gopnik A, Clayton NS, Gray RD (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 AH, Miller R, Gray RD (2013) Clear evidence of habituation counters counterbalancing. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110:e337

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

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

Taylor AH, Miller R, Gray RD (2012) New Caledonian crows reason about hidden causal agents. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109:16389-16391

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 23:201-204

Lab Manager/ Postdoctoral Research Associate

Contact Details

Comparative Cognition Lab, Department of Psychology, Downing Site
Cambridge
CB2 3EB
Classifications: 
Person keywords: 
animal behaviour
cognition
conservation
welfare
child development
Not available for consultancy