Department: Pathobiology and Population Sciences
Research Groups: Animal Welfare Science and Ethics, Brain Health and Behaviour
Research Centres: RVC Animal Welfare Science and Ethics
Alice is a PhD student in the Animal Welfare Science and Ethics group. Alice’s research is exploring whether cognitive stimulation reduces behavioural and neural measures of boredom in laboratory ferrets. The PhD is supervised by Dr Charlotte Burn, Dr Maria Diez-Leon and Prof Jennifer Bizley (UCL, Faculty of Brain Sciences).
Alice joined the Royal Veterinary College as a PhD student in October 2019.
Alice’s background is in zoology, having gained a BSc in Zoology from Imperial College London in 2012, and an MSc in Wild Animal Biology from the Royal Veterinary College and Zoological Society of London in 2015. Her multifaceted MSc project was supervised by Dr Charlotte Burn and explored the effect of visiting public on welfare relevant behaviours of zoo-housed Sulawesi crested macaques and explored options for mitigation via modulation of visitor behaviour.
Between completion of her MSc and commencement of her PhD Alice worked as a zookeeper at ZSL London Zoo to gain a greater understanding of the applied research needs of animal practitioners and to gain expertise in positive reinforcement training and enrichment design for a wide range of species.
Alice’s research is exploring whether cognitive stimulation, namely through provision of enrichment (e.g. puzzle feeders, scent trails, exploration of new environments) and training of new behaviours through positive reinforcement, reduces behavioural and neural measures of boredom in laboratory ferrets. The measures of boredom likely to be investigated include sensation-seeking behaviour, respiratory patterns, restlessness, awake inactivity, ‘clock-watching’ and aspects of brain activity including sensory specific adaptation and neural oscillations.
DANCER, A. M. M. & BURN, C. C. (2019). Visitor effects on zoo-housed Sulawesi crested macaque (Macaca nigra) behaviour: can signs with ‘watching eyes’ requesting quietness help? Applied Animal Behaviour Science 211: 88-94
There is increasing interest in assessment of mental well-being in animals mirroring current interest areas and research in humans. This theme addresses underlining emotional states in animals and where possible, aims to find neural explanations for these.
We aim to refine the way that animals are used in research. Our projects focus on humane husbandry: how best to identification-mark mice, how frequently to clean rat cages, and how to minimise harmful effects from strong odours in the lab, given rodents' extremely well developed olfactory senses.