Marina Davila Ross
  • King Henry I Street, King Henry Building

    PO1 2DY Portsmouth

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

Personal profile


I study the evolution of communication, cognition and emotions, by comparing orangutans, chimpanzees, and children in their natural social settings. My special interests are laughter and play in apes and humans, acoustics, language and multimodal communication, social learning and mimicking, personality, emotions and empathy, phylogenetic reconstructions, and conservation. Opportunities for student research:

Ape Field Research:

Personality traits and foraging skills of orangutans at different stages in the rehabilitation process (curiosity, spatial cognition etc.). Study sites: Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve and Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre (Borneo)

Multimodal communication, social play, and social learning in semi-wild chimpanzees of three colonies. Study site: Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage, Zambia

Comparative Psychology:

Research on positive communication in children (schools in Portsmouth) or other primates (Owl & Monkey Haven)

Research Interests

  • Laughter and laugh faces in apes and humans
  • The evolution of language and multimodal communication
  • Mimicking, emotional contagion and the evolution of empathy
  • Acoustics and facial expressions
  • Personality
  • Competition and cooperation
  • Development and social learning
  • Social bonding and play
  • Phylogenetic reconstructions of primate behaviours
  • Interactions between apes, humans, and interactive robots
  • Ape conservation

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth


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