Simone Pika

Simone Pika has spent over a decade studying the diversity of animals' communicative systems and underlying cognitive mechanisms in captive and natural settings with a special focus on primates and corvids. Recently, she extended this research avenue to include behavioral plasticity (e.g., cultural behaviors, tool-use, medical behaviors), medical cognition, multi-modal communication, phenomena of convergent evolution, and turn-taking.

Curriculum vitae

Secretary's office:

Dorothee Möllmann

Dorothee Möllmann works since August 2019 as personal assistant to Simone Pika in the Comparative BioCognition Group.

Phone: +49 (0) 541 969-3133
E-mail: office-cbc[at]
Office hours: Tuesday/Thursday: 09:00 - 16:00 o'clock;
Friday: by appointment

Guest researchers:

Tobias Deschner

Tobias Deschner conducts research in the areas of socio-ecology and behavioral endocrinology of great apes, humans, but also other species of monkeys as well as dogs and wolves. He has been researching chimpanzees in Taï National Park in Côte d’Ivoire for more than fifteen years and has been leading the Ozouga Chimpanzee Project in Loango National Park in Gabon since 2014.

Email: tdeschner[at]

Postdoctoral staff:

Leonardo Chaves

Leonardo Chaves joined the CBC group as a research assistant in April 2024. He finished his PhD in Ethnobiology and Nature Conservation in 2020 and has since been dedicated to understanding the factors that shape the utilization of natural resources by human populations across diverse socio-ecological systems. His research at the CBC group uses both human and non-human models to investigate the origins of medical systems and to explore the factors influencing the utilization of medicinal plants.

E-mail: leonardo.chaves[at]

Filipa Abreu

Filipa Abreu began as a research assistant at the CBC group in June 2021. She finished her PhD in Ethnobiology and Nature Conservation at Federal Rural University of Pernambuco, Brazil, in 2020. During her doctorate, she studied spatial cognition and spatial navigation of Caatinga common marmosets. Her research at the CBC group will focus on turn-taking in Caatinga and Atlantic Forest common marmosets.

E-mail: Filipa.Abreu[at]


Phd staff:

Alessandra Mascaro

Alessandra Mascaro joined the team as a PhD candidate in July 2023. Since 2022 she has already been a research assistant and external PhD candidate. In her PhD she is working on wound care behaviours. Specifically, her research will focus on studying the behavioral and pharmacological mechanisms involved in the application of insects to open wounds in wild chimpanzees living in the Loango National Park, Gabon, as well as the demographic and social factors that influence caring for other group members when injured.

E-mail: Alessandra.Mascaro[at]

Fanny Tibesar

Fanny Tibesar began her PhD in the CBC group in October 2021. She completed her Masters in Biology of Organisms and Ecology at Université de Liège in Belgium. Previously, she studies human-macaque conflict in Indonesia and Malaysia. Her PhD will focus on turntaking in sooty mangabeys at the Taï National Park in Ivory Coast.

E-mail: Fanny.Tibesar[at]

Jolinde Vlaeyen

Jolinde Vlaeyen began her PhD in the CBC group in September 2021. She completed her Masters in animal behavior at Utrecht University, the Netherlands, where she studied communication in captive bonobos and chimpanzees through facial expressions and communication in wild dolphins through signature whistles. Her PhD will focus on turn-taking communicative behavior in wild bonobos at Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve, Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as turn-taking during a cooperative foraging behavior in wild bottlenose dolphins, in the Cedar Keys, Florida.

E-mail: Jolinde.Vlaeyen[at]

Kayla Kolff

Kayla Kolff started her PhD in the CBC group in August 2020. Her project will centre on the impact of the social environment on turn-taking communicative behavior in wild Eastern chimpanzees, living in the Kibale National Park, Uganda. 

E-mail: Kayla.Kolff[at]

Lara Southern

Lara Southern started her PhD in the CBC group in November 2019. Her research examines the turntaking in wild chimpanzees. She is particularly interested in the environmental factors unique to Loango National Park in Gabon and their subsequent effect on the communicative interactions between the individuals of the Rekambo community.

E-mail: Lara.Southern[at]

Other scientific staff:

Frauke Olthoff

Frauke Olthoff is a research coordinator with a background in biochemistry and biobanking. Her interest for wildlife and conservation arose while working at chimpanzee field projects in Ivory Coast and Tanzania. Since January 2023, she works as a fundraiser and research coordinator at the CBC group. Her main focus is grant writing, data management, development of the CBC database, coordination and support of research groups and the field project in Gabon.

E-mail: fraolthoff[at]

Other administrative staff:

Gudrun Müller

Gudrun Müller started working at the CBC group in January 2023. She is taking care of analysing video data of great apes and children with a focus on language, communication and turn-taking.

Email: gumueller[at]


Bas van Boekholt

Bas van Boekholt worked as a PhD candidate in the CBC group from March 2020 until February 2024. In his thesis he focused on the development of turn-taking and social skills of chimpanzees living in the Ngogo community, Kibale National Park, Uganda.

E-mail: Bas.van.Boekholt[at]

Dr. Samuel Cosper

Samuel Cosper worked as a postdoc in the CBC group from November 2020 until August 2022. His postdoctoral project focused on developmental aspects of turn-taking in human infancy and childhood, as well as a human and non-human primate inter-species comparison. Sam left for TU Dresden where he will work in the faculty of Psychology in the Lifespan Developmental Neuroscience department.

Email: samuel.cosper[at]