Julia H. Espinosa, Ph.D.

Hello! I am a National Science Foundation (NSF) Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University's Department of Human Evolutionary Biology. At HEB, I am affiliated with Dr. Erin Hecht's Evolutionary Neuroscience Lab, and together with Dr. Carlos Alvarez (The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Nationwide Children's Hospital), we are investigating the heritable and experience-dependent factors that influence the development of dog personality and behavior. 

After graduating with a BSc in Neuroscience (Univeristy of Michigan), I moved to Canada and started grad school, first with a MSc in Animal Biosciences (University of Guelph), and then transitioning to Cognitive Psychology for my PhD (University of Toronto). As a doctoral student at UofT, I worked with Dr. Daphna Buchsbaum (Brown University), Dr. Laura Corbit (University of Toronto), and Dr. Suzanne MacDonald (York University) investigating fundamental cognitive processes that support physical and causal reasoning in dogs, as well as the way that humans perceive animal intelligence. Complementing my background in cognition and welfare, my ongoing work with dogs uses a multi-disciplinary approach to understand the evolution and current phenotypes of aggression and pro-sociality. My goal is to explore individual differences in the development and expression of aggression, identifying key genetic correlates and the role of early life experiences in adult dog behavior profiles. 

I am a co-founder of the ManyDogs project and the project lead for our first study, ManyDogs 1. ManyDogs is a multinational, open science consortium for multi-site collaborative studies in Canine Science. Our first study on dog understanding of human pointing cues is in press at Animal Behavior and Cognition. Please visit our website for details on how to join the study as a collaborator or participant, and follow us on Twitter for updates. 

The Secret Life of Dogs