Katarzyna Pisanski

Research Fellow in Bioacoustics and Voice Studies, University of Sussex

I am an experimental psychologist, ethologist, and bioacoustician, utilizing a multidisciplinary approach to study and understand vocal communication in humans and other animals. In one word? I study VOICE. Although the voice may appear at first to be a singular, focused area of research, the topic of voice is in fact vast and multidisciplinary.

Currently I am a Research Fellow in the Mammal Vocal Communication and Cognition Research Group at the University of Sussex, UK, and researcher in the Institute of Psychology at the University of Wroclaw, Poland. I received my PhD and BA from McMaster University and my MSc from the University of Lethbridge, Canada. My multidisciplinary research program focuses on acoustic communication in humans and other animals, with the goal of disentangling the various evolutionary, biological, social and cultural factors that affect voice production and perception, and human behaviour more generally.

I began my research career studying mating in fruit flies and risky foraging behaviour in bumblebees as an undergraduate at McMaster University (Cognitive Ecology Lab) under the supervision of Reuven Dukas. I then received my MSc from the University of Lethbridge (Lab of Comparative Communication and Cognition) working with Drew Rendall, and my PhD from McMaster University (Voice Research Lab) working with David Feinberg. In 2014, nearing the end of my doctoral studies, I had the incredible opportunity to live and conduct research in Havana, Cuba. There I led a research team in the Department of Animal and Human Biology at the University of Havana (Research Group in Bioacoustics and Neuroethology), as well as the Cuban Neurosciences Centre.

After grad school I undertook a research fellowship and lectureship in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA Center for Behavior, Evolution, and Culture). There I taught a course on ‘Voice’ and conducted research with Greg Bryant. Now, I am a Research Fellow in the Mammal Vocal Communication and Cognition Research Group at the University of Sussex, UK, and a researcher in the Institute of Psychology at the University of Wroclaw, Poland.

My current postdoc research is mostly focused on acoustic communication in humans and other animals. The ultimate goal of this research is to gain perspective on the various evolutionary, biological, social and cultural factors that affect voice production and perception. My research questions have taken me into multiple (yet overlapping) disciplines, including bioacoustics, animal behaviour, evolutionary biology, endocrinology, anthropology and experimental psychology.

My most recent research projects aim to shed new light on the social and evolutionary functions of voice modulation and vocal control in humans (PI, funded by European Commission), and to identify the hormonal and physiological mechanisms that contribute to changes in the voice when people are under stress or experience major life changes, such as marriage or having a first child (PI, funded by National Science Center). As an enthusiastic proponent of cross-cultural and comparative research, I am also involved with several international collaborations. Much of my cross-cultural research is aimed at uncovering the sociocultural factors affecting human behaviour and involves fieldwork and international collaborations with Canada, China, Cuba, Finland, Germany, India, Poland, Tanzania, UK, and the USA.

Experience

  • –present
    Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Bioacoustics and Voice Studies, University of Sussex

Education

  • 2014 
    McMaster University, PhD