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Ralph Thompson
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Academic Interests
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Academic InterestsRalph Thompson in Oxford

I am a Zoologist with a broad biological background, specialism in Animal Behaviour and Welfare Science, and a current focus on higher education teaching having recently filled a teaching position at the University of Bristol. My academic qualifications converge on a holistic understanding of Animal Behaviour in a Zoological context while my recent experience in teaching focused roles (including programme and unit leadership) and my Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy demonstrate my commitment to developing such an understanding in others. 


Ralph Thompson in Oxford


Ralph R.J. Thompson, Elizabeth S. Paul, Andrew N. Radford, Julia Purser, Michael Mendl (2016). Routine handling methods affect behaviour of three-spined sticklebacks in a novel test of anxietyBehavioural Brain Research 306 26-35 


In 2014 I completed a PhD entitled Cognitive and Behavioural Indicators of Animal and Human Emotion at the University of Bristol's Animal Welfare and Behaviour Research Group, under the supervision of Prof Mike Mendl and Dr Liz Paul.
My research aimed to investigate the links between emotion, cognition and subjectivity in humans, and then to test whether the same rules apply to non-human subjects that are not capable of verbally reporting their emotional state. Principle gains include the development of novel test of fish 'anxiety', the discovery of anxiolytic effects of acute stress in fish, and demonstration of the ability of interpretive bias tests to detect low level changes in mood in humans.

Ralph R.J. Thompson, Elizabeth S. Paul, Andrew N. Radford, Julia Purser, Michael Mendl (2016). Routine handling methods affect behaviour of three-spined sticklebacks in a novel test of anxiety. Behavioural Brain Research306 26-35 

Although my main interests tend to lie in Animal Behaviour, I maintain an interest in all areas of zoology. I hold a first class honours degree in Natural Science (Zoology) from the University University of Cambridge and prior to my PhD I completed an M.Sc. in Biology (Integrative Bioscience) at the University of Oxford.
During my MSc at Oxford I revised and elaborated upon my biological skills ranging from molecular techniques such as PCR and sequencing to badger trapping and bird ringing on Skomer, all the time with the emphasis on how these techniques can be used to complement each other to provide greatest insight into the system being studied.
Reflecting this diversity I carried out two distinct research projects. The first was undertaken at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics under the supervision of Prof. Anthony P. Monaco and Dr. Silvia Paracchini and used cell biological techniques (cell culture and specifically designed assays) to investigate the cell adhesion properties of the protein product of the Dyslexia associated gene KIAA0319. This will hopefully help to increase our understanding of how normal cortical developmental processes work as well as identifying the deficits underlying Dyslexia.

My second research project saw a change of focus and scale as I carried out a field project in Wytham Woods, the University of Oxford's long term field study site run by the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology in the Department of Zoology. I looked at the effects of fine scale variation in the timing of resource availability on the success and timing of breeding in great tits (Parus major) under the supervision of Amy Hinks and Prof. Ben Sheldon. Answers to questions such as this are of course becoming all the more urgent as the effects of global climate change begin to be felt.