“Tabula Rasa” at the Pepperberg Lab

Tabula Rasa: something new, fresh, unmarked, or uninfluenced. -The American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy

While the start of this year was by no means something completely fresh and unmarked, it did bring about fresh beginnings, positive energy, and endless possibilities. Since the last blog update, the Pepperberg lab faced a tremendous amount of change. For one thing, we changed the blog author. While we all greatly enjoyed Megan’s passion for the extraordinary research being done with Dr. Pepperberg and the dynamic duo (Griff and Wart), I (Eduardo) have taken over as Megan focuses on graduate school and pursuing her career involving animal cognition research. I’m currently a Junior and can proudly say that I’ve had the honor of working with this lab for about a year now. My favorite part of working in this lab is the incredible hands-on experience and the discernible fervor students exhibit for the various studies we’re trying out. I also really like giving Wart wooden Popsicle sticks to chew on and seeing his face light up with joy!

Great news, the matching fundraiser was a great success! As many of you know, our friend Andy Sterner set up a matching program where supporters of the Alex Foundation could donate what they could and at the end of the fundraiser, Andy would graciously match up to $10,000 of the collections. The fundraiser ended January 5, 2013, and we are thrilled to announce that we reached our goal of $10,000!! To a community of families and friends that shares our fascination with animal cognitive studies and who keep Alex’s memory alive, we thank you for your generosity; it is through your love and support that the mission of the Alex Foundation continues to stay true. As you know, we operate purely on donations for all expenses related to the lab, ranging from food to larger costs like lab space rent. We truly appreciate the support you constantly offer us and any other future contributions you make.

In other news, I’d like to introduce everyone to our fairly new lab manager Suzanne Gray. Arlene Levin-Rowe retired from the lab manager position after almost 10 years of enthusiasm and dedication to the Pepperberg vision. Her successor, Suzanne studies Psychology at the Harvard Extension School. Suzanne worked as an animal trainer at PetSmart and studied under Dr. Pepperberg before becoming the lab manager. She definitely shows expertise and eagerness for animal behavior research, and we’re excited to have her on board.

Not many people get the privilege of working in the Pepperberg Lab, and at most colleges undergraduates scarcely can participate in real lab work. What sets this lab apart from the rest is its character and soul. The typical researcher performs monotonous and tedious jobs with rather boring results. The avian cognition research performed with Griffin and Wart pushes the boundaries of any studies of its kind being done at Brandeis and in most laboratories around the country. The lab manager hires students who show zealous enthusiasm towards the research, great ability to interact with African Greys and an overall passion for animal behavior/cognitive studies. Whether it be undergraduates from other colleges, Brandeis graduate students, or even visiting graduate students, our researchers are brought together with one common goal: to learn more about this avian species and improve the world’s understanding of animal behavior. Many of us see it every day in our pets; it’s time to share this with the rest of the world.

If you’re interested in staying connected with us, check our blog out periodically. We’re planning on making weekly updates about all things Wart and Griffin related, so don’t miss out on all the fun! Also, if you’re not linked to us via Facebook or Twitter and would like to, click on the links below:

 

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Alex Foundation/82141807119?fref=ts

https://twitter.com/alexfoundation

 

We hope you’re bundled up during these cold winter months, and stick with us for future posts and updates.

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