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Behavioural Neuroendocrinology
Animal Welfare

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Personal profile

Current Research Interests

Adaptations of the neuroendocrine system: hormonal and neural regulation of reproduction and behaviour.  Animal Welfare: Neurobiology of positive welfare and behaviour.



Simone graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Zoology from the University of Bristol in 1991.  Under the supervision of Prof. Sir Brian Follett she researched photoperiodic time measurement in birds and was awarded a PhD from The University of Bristol in 1995.  She then undertook a post-doctoral research project with Prof. Gareth Leng and Prof. John Russell in the Department of Physiology, Medical School at The University of Edinburgh where she investigated the neural pathways controlling parturition. In 1996 she went to work in the laboratory of Prof. John Wingfield at the University of Washington, USA, to study hormone, brain-behaviour interactions in wild song birds, including in those breeding in the Arctic. Simone returned to the UK in 1999 to take up research positions back at The University of Edinburgh, School of Biomedical and Biological Sciences where her research focused on topics that included stress physiology, maternal behaviour and learning and memory. 

Simone is Head of the Division of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Medicine and in 2016 was awarded a Personal Chair in Behavioural Neuroendocrinology. She became a Lecturer in Veterinary Biomedical Sciences at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Medicine in 2005 and was promoted to Senior lecturer in 2008, Reader in 2011  Simone is a Group Leader at the Roslin Institute and she leads a research group funded by the BBSRC, NSF, The Leverhulme trust, NC3Rs and The Royal Society that investigates how environmental and social cues can trigger functionally important behaviours such as response to stress, food intake, reproduction, photoperiodism and aggression by examining the neuroendocrine system. She is also investigating the neurobiology of positive welfare (environmental enrichment) and behaviour. Simone served as co-chair and a core committee A member for BBSRC from 2014 to 2019. Simone teaches extensively on a number of undergraduate BVM&S and postgraduate courses.  

Research Interests

I have several lines of research currently underway all related to my specific interest in behavioural neuroendocrinology. 

My neuroendocrine research focuses on how environmental cues can trigger the expression of functionally important behaviours. This is a question of significant importance in neuroscience and animal welfare. Neuroendocrine-related behaviours are thought to be initiated or enabled by peripheral hormone secretion, and appear to involve specific neurohormonal actions of peptides within the brain. The exact mechanisms by which hormones affect the apparent organisational changes in neuronal circuitry and the specific chemical signals involved in sustaining the resulting behaviours, are questions fundamental to understanding behavioural disorders.

Hormonal and neural regulation of social behaviour including aggression and reproductive behaviour including maternal behaviour. Supported by BBSRC.

Neuroendocrine control of reproduction, pregnancy and parturitionSupported by The Welcome Trust and BBSRC.

Hormonal and neural regulation of food intake.

Adaptations in neuroendocrine stress response mechanisms.

Effects of early life stress in later life. Supported by BBSRC.

Animal welfare; neurobiology and Indicators of positive animal welfare.  Collaborative research with Prof. Alistair Lawrence, SRUC.Supported by BBSRC.

The circadian system, photoperiodism and seasonality. 

Physiological and neuroendocrine adaptations to breeding in the Arctic.  Collaborative research with Prof. John Wingfield, UC Davis, USA. Supported by NSF.

Neural and endocrinological bases of nest building, spatial learning and memory in food-storing birds. Collaborative research with Prof. Sue Healy, University of St Andrews.  Supported by BBSRC.

The role of sex steroids in regulating the song control nucleus in birds.  Collaborative research with Prof. George Bentley, UC Berkeley, USA). Supported by NSF.

Identification of the photoreceptor for light detection in the avian brain.  Collaborative research with Dr Tyler Stevenson, The University of Glasgow. Supported by The Leverhulme Trust.


Research students

Primary Supervisor:

PhD Students:

Ailsa Mackay (2005-2008).

Sarah Caughey (2006-2010).

Yana Aleksandrova (2013-2017).

Emma Tivey (2018-2021).

Louisa Kosin (2023-2027)

MSc Students:

David Ishya (2006).

Gillian Perreau (2013).

Artemis Papadaki-Anastasopoulou (2014).

Bedour Al-Sayegh (2015).

Angela Correa Ramirez (2017).

William Farnworth Rowson (2018).

Francesca Foschi (2019).

Julie Miranville (2020).

Marie Simonot (2021).

PhD Student Co-supervisor:

Zoe Hodgson (2001-2004).

Olivia Haggis (2006-2010).

Zachary Hall, The University of St Andrews (2011-2014).

Natalia Grundwald (2011-2015).

Yu-Ting Lai (2011-2015).

Doris Bayer, The University of Regensburg, Germany (2012-2015).

Sophie Edwards, The University of St Andrews (2015-2019).

Tayla Hammond, SRUC (2018-2021).

Elisabetta Tolla, The University of Glasgow (2018-2021).

MSc Student Co-supervisor:

Lauren Broom (2004).

Valerie Bishop (2006)

Sara Hintze (2012)

Tayla Hammond (2017)

Raven Hickson (2018)

Cleo Grieve (2019)

Undergraduates who have undertaken research projects in the Meddle Laboratory


Nathan Gribbin

Emily O'Hara

Rachel Pirie

Ronny Gale

Sophia Grammatikopoulos-Pallidis


Sophia Grammatikopoulos-Pallidis

Melissa Jones

Hannah Head

Abby Soussan

Rosalie Soussan


Jasmine Yap


Jacqueline Tong


Micheal Sia

Alexis Bryce


Elisa Nicklas (Erasmus Plus Student)

Meagan Wentworth

Jeffrey Cheah


Ben Brown        

Evie Stickland  

Jessica Stirling 

Kayla Sands


Cheryl Rae

George Martin  

Patricia Clark

Sarah Rusin      


Jessica Bouchard           


Chelsie Daniel  

Rosemarie Bonanno

Sarah Aldridge

Rebecca Senf    


Joseph Clarke   

Stephanie Ellison


Camilla Hindar 


Ariana Parker   

Chloe Tolley

Max King         

Rachael White  


Emily Hatfield  

Kathryn Cruickshank     

Lucy Oldham

Luke Burke       


Gemma Rushton           

Jenifer Rodrigues          

Surawee Chauaiphichai 


Louise Warren   


Lynne Dallachy 

Michelle Lew    


Emily Barlass    

Lyndsay Gray    

Sophie Brearly  


Elisabeth Hirst 

Jennifer Horwood          

Olivier Marteau


Alexander Gillies          

Alexandra Tweed         

Neil Dawson     

Simon Bush      


Effimia Gkoumassi


Elizabeth Portnoy         

Nadia Mosson   


Joanna Maclean

Katherine O'Neill

Victoria Scott   

Johann Selvarajah



2005-2021: Director for First Year BVM&S. 

2007-2021: Director for intercalated degrees for BVM&S. 

2010-2014: Exam Board Chair for BVM&S Animal Body 1 & AB3 spot exam organiser.

2018-2021: BVM&S Board of Studies

2004-2011: Course Organiser for Hormones Emotionality and Behaviour, Medical Biology BSc. (Hons). I designed, developed and gave all lectures on the course.

2005-present: Section Organiser for BVM&S Animal Body 3.

2005-present: Personal Tutor for BVM&S students. 

2005-present: Exam Board Member for the following BVM&S courses: Animal Body 1, Animal Body 3 and Graduate entry.

2004-2011: Exam Board Member Medical Biology BSc. (Hons).

2006-2011: Staff / Student Liaison Officer for Medical Biology BSc. (Hons).

Currently teach on the following courses:

BVM&S: Animal Body 3 & 4. 

Previously taught: Medical Biology (BSc. Hons) Neuroendocrinology module, Physiology (BSc. Hons) and Neuroscience (BSc. Hons) and Medical Biology first year.MSc. Research Animal Biosciences.  Reproductive Biology (BSc. Hons).MSc. / Diploma in Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare. BVM&S: Animal Body 1, professional & clinical skills and graduate entry.

1995-present: Supervisor for Physiology Hons BSc. and Neuroscience Hons BSc. Research Projects. BVM&S undergraduate Student Research Component Projects. Supervised over 50 laboratory research projects at undergraduate level.

1995-present:  Supervised field based and laboratory projects for visiting undergraduate and postgraduate students from the UK, Japan, USA, Malaysia, Kuwait, Nigeria, Thailand, Germany, France and Greece.

2016: Designed and delivered laboratory training for East Bio DTP Students.

Information correct as of September 2021

Collaborative Activity

Current external collaborators include:

Professor John Wingfield (UC Davis, USA)

Professor Kazuyoshi Tsutsui (Waseda University Japan)

Professor Sue Healy (University of St Andrews)

Professor Karen Spencer (University of St Andrews)

Professor Alistair Lawrence (Scotland's Rural College)

Professor Oliver Bosch (Department of Behavioural and Molecular Neuroendocrinology, Universität Regensburg Germany)

Dr Tyler Stevenson (University of Glasgow, UK) 




Administrative Roles

BVM&S Committees:

Learning and Teaching Committee

Curriculum Review Committee

Assessment Research and Development Group 

Intercalated Degree Executive Committee

Research Track Committee

Postgraduate Studies 

SPGSC Masters 

Board of Studies School of Biomedical Sciences 

 Adaptation and Renewal Group

Distinctions short life working gorup

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Bristol


Award Date: 1 Jan 1995

Zoology, Bachelor of Science, University of Bristol


Award Date: 1 Jan 1991

External positions

Deputy Chair, Committee A, BBSRC

2017 → …

Core member Committee A , BBSRC

2015 → …

Panel of experts Committee A, BBSRC

2014 → …

Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Biomedical Science , The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, The University of Edinburgh


Lecturer in Veterinary Biomedical Science, The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, The University of Edinburgh


Lecturer and Research Fellow, Schools of Biomedical Sciences and Biological Sciences, The University of Edinburgh


Research Fellow, Department of Zoology, University of Washington, Seattle, USA


Research Fellow, Department of Physiology, University of Edinburgh



  • QL Zoology
  • Behaviour
  • Cognition
  • Field work
  • Wild birds
  • Arctic Science
  • Animal Welfare
  • Positive Wellfare
  • Birds
  • behavioural ecology
  • QP Physiology
  • Behavioural Neuroendocrinology
  • Endocrinology
  • Neuroscience
  • Electrophysiology
  • Neurobiology
  • Optogenetics
  • Neuroendocrinology


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