Gillian is a comparative psychologist interested in human and non-human primate cognition. Her research involves the integration of modern technology and the convergence of methodologies across multiple disciplines. Gillian began her research studies in primate cognition as an undergraduate in cognitive science at the University of California San Diego. She subsequently earned a D.Phil. from Oxford University where she investigated the neural correlates of human language and attention using neuroimaging methods (EEG, PET, fMRI).
As a postdoctoral student, Gillian honed her developmental psychology knowledge running behavioral and imaging studies of infant cognitive development at the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development under the direction of Mark Johnson. Using knowledge of human cognition and quantitative neuroscience techniques, a second postdoctoral position awarded by the Daphne Jackson Trust at the University of Sussex, provided an opportunity to develop a new multidimensional method (MDM) to investigate naturalistic behavior across disparate populations. This research focused on gaining a better understanding of both the evolution and the development of human and non-human primate nonverbal communication skills through the quantitative assessment of western lowland gorilla behavior.