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Durham University

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Miss Diane Austry

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Research Postgraduate in the Department of Psychology

Contact Miss Diane Austry (email at


For the course of my PhD project, I am investigating the foundation of empathy in primates using a developmental and comparative approach with great apes and children under the supervision of Dr Zanna Clay at Durham University.

My research interests concern the development and evolution of mechanisms increasing social cohesion, with a particular focus on vocal and non-vocal communication as well as socio-emotional abilities in great apes and children. With this respect, I worked on post-conflict affiliation and communication in bonobos with Dr Zanna Clay at the University of Neuchâtel (Switzerland) in 2015. I then joined the University of Portsmouth to work on facial communication in great apes with Dr Marina Davila-Ross and Dr Guillaume Dezecache (based on my MSc Research) as well as on another project using infrared thermal imaging to measure emotional states in great apes and children with Dr M. Davila-Ross. In addition to my academic work, I had acquired strong fieldwork experience with various primate species, both in the laboratory and more remote areas in South America, Indonesia, and Africa.

Research Interests

  • Evolution and development of empathy
  • Primate vocal and non-vocal communication

Research Groups

Department of Psychology

Department of Anthropology

Research Groups

Department of Psychology

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Psychology: Child development

Is supervised by

Selected Grants

  • 2018: A behavioual and physiological investigation into the development of sympathetic concern in bonobos (Pan Paniscus) (£4565.52 from National Geographic Society)
  • 2018: Cross-species and cross-cultural investigation into the development of empathy in bonobos (Pan paniscus) and human children (£3787.88 from )