Home About Me Dog Personality Survey Optimism in Animals Further Reading


About Me

My name is Melissa Starling. I am currently a PhD Student at the Veterinary Science Faculty at the University of Sydney in Australia. I am undertaiking a project on dog behaviour. My project investigates 'optimism' in dogs, which is shorthand for 'a cognitive bias towards positive outcomes'. I am interested in how inherent tendencies towards optimism or pessimism may relate to dog personality.

I am researching dog behaviour mostly because I was very taken with the idea of sitting around watching dogs all day. I completed a BSc(Hons) majoring in zoology at the Australian National University in 2005. I was involved in research on the behaviour of wild birds. For most of my life dogs have been a hobby and wildlife has been my passion, but in recent years I discovered that dogs are really quite fascinating. They are social, which is always intensely interesting, and predatory, opportunistic, neotenous, and they come in a huge variety of shapes, sizes, and 'types'. And the best bit is they don't run away when they see you! Bonus.

I have two dogs, a Finnish Lapphund called Kivi Tarro and a Swedish Vallhund called Erik the Tall. Kivi and Erik are about as different as two dogs can be, which is very useful and convenient for me when I'm trying to figure out how to approach data collection. I also have a domestic rabbit called Bonnie and a wild hare called Kit.


You can contact me on the e-mail address below. It is an image file to save my poor uni account from being spammed mercilessly, so you will need to copy it manually.



Last updated: January 2011