Pizza Ka Yee Chow
EducationPhD Psychology/ Biology (Animal Behaviour)
QualificationsBSc, MSc, MSc, PhD
Current JobPostdoctoral Research Fellow
Current employer : Max Planck Institute for Ornithology (Germany)
2018 Hokkaido University (Japan) and affiliated with University of Exeter (UK)
2017 University of Exeter (UK)
2016-2017 University of Cambridge (UK), University of Exeter (UK), Wilkes University (USA)
2012-2015 University of Exeter (UK)
2010 The Education University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong)
2008-2009 City University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong)
Favourite thing to do in my job: is...to have direct interactions with animals like squirrels and bees when testing their IQ and how do they see the world. I also love being able to access to different woodlands!
About Me: I am a biologist and psychologist who love to understand how animals think and behave = find out what is inside their little head! Other things I like, to name a few, are chocolate, watching movies, enjoying a day with nature!
I was born in Hong Kong, a city that has many skyscrapers, good food, and …people!
My first two jobs were human-orientated – I worked with kids with Autism, ADHD and learning disability. I also worked with older people who had dementia or impaired cognitive performance.
However, I prefer to be able to see blue sky and wildlife, plus I am not afraid of moving to new places and meeting new people, and ergo, I moved to the UK for my study and work for many years. Because of my work, I also traveled to and stayed at many places, to name a few, Portugal, Finland, USA, Japan, Germany. I am currently living in Spain!
I am an open-minded person – I love intellectual conversations that would allow me understand the mind itself. This makes me embrace people from regardless of their sex, age, race etc.
My Work: Would you like to know how clever your pet is?
You may wonder how do we, biologists and psychologists, work with animals. There is no secret and indeed is not much different from how you build connection with a person. All we do is to make an individual trust us by being a reliable person! We also have to be flexible because, just like humans, non-human animals have their own life style (e.g. waking up and sleeping time). For example, some squirrels are early birds, like to work in the morning and in order to see them, I have to wake up early, too (sometimes as early as 4am! but this is not difficult because you could take a nap later!)
Squirrels and I are BFF because I will be staying in the same spot at the same time when I am testing their IQ in the wild, look! this is a grey squirrel, Einstein🙂 (left) and a red squirrel, Nibble (right).
After I gain the trust from squirrels, I will give them some problems that require them to get an out-of-reach hazelnut. I designed boxes like the puzzle box (top) to see whether they could solve a problem successfully, how persistent they are, how many ways they tried to solve the problem, how much time would they need to learn the successful solution etc
or boxes like the generalisation box (bottom) to see whether squirrels could apply the same successful solution when solving a similar but different problem!
Currently, I am working with different species of parrots. This is an exciting move because parrots are expected to be clever animals :D! BUT, are their problem solving and thinking pattern similar to squirrels? to do this, I am giving lots of IQ test to parrots that have been used in squirrels – we will see!!
My typical day is like riding on a roller coaster 😁
Quiet time —
Starting with a good cup of coffee and toast @5.30am! Think of three things to achieve for the day!
Head to the uni, say hello to my squirrels and bees @7am (squirrels and bees start working early)! Telling them that I will work with them that day and hope they will cooperate during the experiment.
Peak time —
Teaching and lots of meetings (during term time) @9am-1pm or run experiments with squirrels/bees.
Quiet time —
Writing and thinking @1.45-3pm
Feeding animals (nuts and seeds for squirrels, syrup and pollens for 🐝) @3-4pm
Peak time —
Run experiment @4pm-6pm
Quiet time —
Analyse data, read literatures, more writing @6.15-8pm
Dinner + TV news time 8-8.30pm
Shower and sleep no later than 11.30pm
What I'd do with the prize money: Buy nuts for squirrels and smarties for you!
To make you understand how squirrels, bees and parrots think, Let’s work out an IQ test!
You will become the scientist who carry out the experiment with your friends and family. If you have a pet, you could try out an IQ test with them! Of course, we have to find some reward to motivate them. We will find Smarties (or other snacks that you like)!
I will use part of the money to buy good nuts for squirrels and parrots for other outreach, motivate them to solve problems (squirrels are fussy with when choosing nuts!).
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Energetic, fun, interesting
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
What was your favourite subject at school?
What did you want to be after you left school?
I had once thought of becoming a designer 👩🎨 or Skater!
Were you ever in trouble at school?
I was a problematic kid who always disturbed other kids during lessons!
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Designer or dancer
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Climbing up a volcano mountain
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
1) I wish I could speak to animals; 2) I wish my body could mode to different animals (from an ant to an elephant); and 3) I wish I could have an endless chocolate supplier!
Tell us a joke.
Why do all Mushrooms laugh? Because they are fun-guys (fungi)!