16 April 2024

Meet Lizzie Speechley, a dedicated PHD candidate and proud Unihall resident whose research delves into the fascinating world of animal cognition, particularly focusing on the intelligence of WA magpies. Liz's journey into academia was sparked by her fascination with the complexities of group dynamics and cognition, especially in species like magpies, which thrive in social settings.

Her groundbreaking research over the past five years has unveiled the intricate social structures of magpie communities, highlighting how living in groups stimulates higher cognitive functions. Through her close interaction with wild magpies, Lizzie has gained insights into what aspects of their social environment underpin cognition, laying the foundation for her pioneering work.

Liz's academic journey began in 2012 when she embarked on a Bachelor of Science in Zoology at UWA. While many of her peers pursued careers in consultancy, Liz's passion for research propelled her into a different trajectory, leading her to explore the depths of avian intelligence.

Choosing to reside at Unihall as a postgraduate student was a strategic decision for Lizzie, as it provided her with a conducive environment for both study and teaching responsibilities. The proximity to campus, coupled with the supportive community of like-minded individuals, offered her the ideal setting to thrive academically.

As Lizzie prepares to graduate in July, her advice to aspiring PHD candidates echoes her own journey—pursue research only if you're truly passionate about it and consider honours as a precursor to the rigours of a PHD.

Living within the vibrant community of Unihall, Liz's experiences further validate her theories on the correlation between group living and intelligence. With over 35% of residents achieving Distinction and High Distinction, Unihall stands as a testament to the enriching environment it provides for academic pursuits.