Dr Arik Kershenbaum communicating with wild meerkats in the Kalahari
Girton College is proud to celebrate the success of Official Fellow, Director of Studies and Tutor, Dr Arik Kershenbaum, who has received the highest degree awarded by the University of Cambridge for his distinguished research in science – Doctor of Science (ScD).
Arik’s work has shown that wide ranging, maybe even universal, rules govern how complex communication can be. Rather than simply focussing on a small number of impressively vocal species, like songbirds, Arik and colleagues have found that a wide range of animals (mammals, birds, insects, even fish) show similar, consistent patterns in the way they encode information. This brings a new perspective to our understanding of the meaning in animal vocalisations, not only helping us understand what animals may be saying, but potentially moving us closer to understanding the evolution of our own human language.
Arik has a string of impressive publications in peer-review journals, yet is committed also to the public understanding of science, as can be seen in his highly popular book ‘The Zoologist’s Guide to the Galaxy’. Described by Richard Dawkins as 'A wonderfully insightful sidelong look at Earthly biology' this highly readable volume considers (amongst other things) whether there some features of communication that are so universal that we would expect to find them even on other planets.