Dr Sean O'Hara

Lecturer in Wildlife Cognition and Behaviour

  • Peel Building Room 324
  • T: +44 (0)161 295 3887
  • E: s.ohara@salford.ac.uk
  • SEEK: Research profile

Biography

I read Ecology and Environmental Management at Cardiff University and was awarded a First Class honours degree. From there I established myself at the University of Cambridge, first receiving an MPhil in Biological Anthropology before being awarded a joint University of Cambridge–Corpus Christi College scholarship to work towards my PhD.  My doctoral research focused on male aggression and female sexuality in wild chimpanzees in Budongo Forest, Uganda. During that two-year field period I served as Assistant Director of the Budongo Forest Project. Three days after my PhD viva I took up my first academic appointment – at Durham University (evolutionary anthropology). Since then and prior to arriving in Salford I lectured at Liverpool University (evolutionary psychology). I have been an invited or plenary speaker at several events including: Makerere University Field Station meeting (Kibale, Uganda); Primate Society of Great Britain conference; British Academy conference (co-speaker); and Seattle Pacific University. Since arriving in Salford in 2010 I have pursued my interests in social and cognitive evolution in taxa as diverse as: humans and human hunter-gatherers, dholes and dogs, meerkats and mandrills, and chimpanzees and cheetahs.

Teaching

I am a member of the Wildlife Programmes’ teaching group and I also co-ordinate the Level 6 Wildlife Dissertation module. I supervise students seeking to explore the cognitive abilities of humans and other animals, animal personality and animal behaviour. Undergraduate teaching encompasses interests in primate and other animal behaviour, cognitive evolution, research and statistical methods and evolution. I also lecture on the acclaimed Wildlife Documentary Production MA programme.

Research Interests

My main research interest is in understanding the evolved psychologies that underscore behavioural decision-making. Drawing on a background of biosciences, evolutionary anthropology and evolutionary psychology I address key questions relating to social and cognitive evolution in humans and other animals from a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary perspective.

I am currently working toward establishing a field site in Burma to conduct research on the cognition, behaviour and conservation of dholes (Cuon alpinus).

Qualifications and Memberships

BSc (Hons), Cardiff University

MPhil University of Cambridge, Corpus Christi College

PhD University of Cambridge, Corpus Christi College

Council Member – Primate Society of Great Britain (PSGB)

Research Working Party Convenor – PSGB

Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB)

Northern England Primate Group (NEPG)

Cambridge Biological Society