Prof. Thibaud Gruber
SNSF Professor

After a Bachelor in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon and a Master in Cognitive Sciences at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, I started a PhD in Psychology at the University of St Andrews, UK studying the origins of tool use and culture by implementing field experiments in several chimpanzee communities in the Ugandan rain forest. During this time, I also developed an interest in primate vocalizations, which has remained to this day. Following my PhD, I joined the Centre Norbert Elias, a CNRS unit, and the Anthropological Institute and Museum at the University of Zürich for my first postdoctoral experience supported by the Fyssen Foundation, to study the cognitive bases of cultural behaviour in chimpanzees and orangutans. I continued this work by joining the Department of Comparative Psychology at the University of Neuchâtel as a Intra-European Marie Curie Fellow (now known as Marie Curie Sklodowska fellowship), before joining the NEAD to study emotions in vocalizations in human and nonhuman primates, supported by an interdisciplinary project of the Swiss National Science Foundation. The SNSF is also funding me through an Advanced Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Oxford, UK, where I continue studying tool use in chimpanzees.

In recent years, I have developed my own independent approach to great ape cognition, bringing a cognitive perspective to the analysis of the mechanisms underlying the cultural transmission process. I have applied this representational approach, heavily-based on cognitive science, to the domains of animal culture and communication. At the University of Geneva, I am engaged in a comparative project aiming to develop methods to analyse great apes’ abilities to discriminate and categorise emotions, together with Didier Grandjean and Coralie Debracque. I have also collaborated with Fabrice Clément's group at the University of Neuchâtel to develop developmental studies with human children, with a particular focus on in-group/out-group social learning. I'm also conducting cross-cultural work in France and Serbia.