Barbara Klump awarded for animal behavior research

Barbara Klump, Category winner. Category: Ecology and Environment.

Science and SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists’ Ecology and Environment category winner Barbara Klump (Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior) explores environmental factors’ influence on animal behavior, and like the New Caledonian crow, she uses hooks of her own when stepping out of the office.

Barbara Klump, PhD at the University of St. Andrews and currently a Postdoc at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, has always had a special bond with animals, something that eventually led to her studying their behavior. As an undergraduate, her interest was very broad – she wanted to know more about animal behavior, cognition and communication. As her studies progressed, and later on during her PhD, drivers of variation in behavior piqued her interest – she wanted to know why animals do things in a certain way. Specifically, something she found to be often overlooked was ecological variables. The environment a species lives in shapes its behavioural repertoire – such as tool use, communication and social behaviour.

“I am fascinated by how adaptive animals are, be it crows that use tools to extract grubs from deadwood, or cockatoos adapting to city life” says Barbara Klump.

Despite being fascinated by animal behavior, becoming a researcher was not an obvious choice for Barbara Klump.

“For a long time I thought I would become a vet, but when it was time to actually enroll for university I realized that I am far more interested in understanding causes of behavior than treating symptoms. From then on, it was clear to me that I wanted to do research.”

A crafty therapy

When Barbara Klump was still in kindergarten, her mother taught her the art of crochet. She still picks up the crochet hooks, mostly during the colder months, but this interest evolved to sewing during her PhD. She makes gifts, blankets and clothes – mostly for her niece. For up to four months a year, Barbara Klump is doing fieldwork – with long, active days outside. The rest of the year she is stuck in an office. This is where the sewing comes in.

“It gives me something to do with my hands, and – maybe most importantly – you get an immediate result, writing a paper is a much longer process” says Barbara Klump.

More information:

Make sure not to miss the Science & SciLifeLab Prize Symposium: Roads to Research Excellence, where you will meet Barbara Klump and the other winners and learn more about their research. Register today!

Learn more about the winners and their research on

Tune in to our podcast featuring all four winners, sharing their current work and scientific journeys.


Last updated: 2019-11-22

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