The team

Hannah S. Mumby - Principal Investigator


Having conducted research on long-lived mammals for almost fifteen years and focused my efforts on elephants for over ten, I'm very fortunate to be leading this diverse group, and to be incorporating other study systems.


Please read more about me in other sections of the website, including the hannah CV, elephant research, boar research and publications pages. I'll be making updates about the group and our projects in the blog section. I'll also be adding a teaching page, where I'll upload resources I use for my courses.

Derek Murphy - Postdoctoral Researcher


Derek graduated with a BA in psychology at University College Dublin, Ireland, and a MSc (with distinction) in animal behaviour at the University of Exeter, UK. He then went on to complete his PhD in biological sciences at the University of Aberdeen, UK, with Professors David Lusseau, Louise Barrett and Peter Henzi, researching the social network dynamics of primate groups. He then became a postdoctoral researcher with Dr. Hannah Mumby on the Bull Elephant Network Project in the Conservation Science Group in the Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, UK, where he used social network analysis to investigate the temporal dynamics of male African elephant social groups, and simulations to determine the efficacy of network analytic techniques under constrained data sampling conditions. 


Derek is interested in how sociality shapes the lives of group-living animals, such as elephants, and the implications of social structure for social learning, communication, disease transmission, and conservation.

Yifu Wang- Postdoctoral Researcher

Yifu graduated from McGill University with a bachelor’s degree majoring in Environmental Biology in 2015. In the same year, she enrolled in University of Cambridge as a PhD candidate. Her PhD project focused on understanding pangolin trade and markets in China to better conserve this group of highly trafficked mammals. 


Yifu’s postdoc project at HKU will investigate the conflict between humans and wild boars in Hong Kong. The reasons why more wild boar appear in urban settings, how people perceive the nuisances they cause and the potential management plans for this species will be the focus of this project. The outputs will potentially feed into real-life policies to manage wild boar and human interactions in Hong Kong.

Kaja Wierucka – Postdoctoral Researcher

Kaja is a behavioural ecologist specialising in animal behaviour and communication. She is interested in how animals use and combine information from different sensory modalities and how this affects animal behaviour. Currently, she is analysing wild male African elephant vocalisations and assessing their potential for acoustic individual recognition. She is also working with Asian elephants, investigating olfactory preferences, their chemical basis (through GCMS analyses) and influence on food choice, as well as multimodal and cross-modal recognition in the species.

Kaja completed her PhD at Macquarie University and Université Paris-Saclay, where she investigated multimodal communication and individual recognition between Australian sea lion mothers and pups. Prior to that she also led and took part in various projects, highlights of which include looking at the effects of an epizootic on pilot whale survival, modelling seasonal and annual survival rates of reed warblers, investigating activity budgets of Cape fur seals as well as habitat preferences of forest-dwelling bats. 

Even Yee Man Leung- PhD student

Even recently obtained a BSc degree from the University of Hong Kong, majoring in Ecology & Biodiversity. Her undergraduate studies gave her many opportunities to explore different fields within ecology. In her final year project, she worked on the chloroplast genome degradation of a fully-mycoheterotrophic (fully non-photosynthetic, gaining nutrients from its symbiotic fungal partner) plant, Thismia hongkongensis. She wishes to contribute more in generating knowledge, not just to the academia, but also to society as a conservation biologist. 


Her upcoming PhD project will focus on the possible predatory impact of feral dogs (Canis familiaris) on wildlife. She hopes to incorporate both social and ecological perspectives in her PhD research, so that we can come up with a more holistic solution that fulfills the needs of both humans and wildlife. 


Sagarika Phalke- PhD student

Sagarika has an MSc in the Psychology of human-animal interactions from the University of Stirling, UK. Her focus lies in understanding and improving conditions for wild and captive elephants which can experience differing levels of welfare due to their interactions with humans. Therefore, by working with humans that have an impact on elephants, she hopes to create an inclusive approach to elephant welfare and conservation. Her long-term goal is to look at improving welfare conditions across the different captive elephant management systems in India, through work with mahouts and the administration and also work with local communities that are affected by negative human-elephant interactions. 


Having worked for a grassroot organization in India, her experience in the field involves research on captive elephant welfare in extensive systems of management and community- based initiatives in dealing with negative interactions with elephants.

Teresa Santos- PhD Candidate

Teresa completed her Master's degree in 2017 on Evolutionary and Developmental Biology at the University of Lisbon, Portugal. For her thesis, she used population genetics to study African elephants across two protected areas in South Africa, under the supervision of Dr Hannah Mumby and Dr Carlos Fernandes. She previously participated in molecular ecology projects at the University of Sheffield, UK, and the University of Aveiro, Portugal. Her research interests lie in molecular ecology, population genetics, evolution, and conservation genetics of mammals.

Hannah Tilley- PhD student

Tilley is a conservation biologist with a passion for investigating behavioural ecology using different systems. She graduated with a degree in Zoology and went on to complete a masters of research at University College London, before undertaking different behavioural projects with birds in Hong Kong and bats in Panama.


Although currently a research assistant, Tilley is currently applying for a doctoral program with the lab to further examine how elephant sensory systems impact behaviour. This will require extensive time at our field site in Nepal; training elephants on behavioural tasks and using complex statistical methods to analyse results.

Calvin Ma- Research Assistant

Calvin completed his Bachelor degree of Science in Ecology and Biodiversity at the University of Hong Kong. He is a bird lover and he wrote his final year project on birds and its interaction with the environment. He used stable isotope analysis to study the trophic response of rainforest birds along a gradient of habitat conversion in Malaysian Borneo.

He is currently a research assistant in the lab, helping to establish a study on the human-wild boar interaction and boar's environmental impacts in Hong Kong. His research interest is species conservation and management. Meanwhile, he is looking forward to obtaining opportunities to take part in research projects in Australia.

Annaëlle Surreault- Research Assistant


Annaëlle has a background in animal behaviour and conducted a project on gestural communication and social learning in wild vervet monkeys in South Africa for her master’s thesis. She is now looking forward to starting her PhD project on how animals use their social environnent to adjust their behaviour and acquire new skills. Social learning includes a set of underlying rules and mechanisms involving different degrees of cognitive competences. 


Annaëlle’s main interest is investigating the rules driving social learning in Asian elephants and its underpinning mechanisms. She is interested in when and how elephants use social information. 

Sylvia Lam- undergraduate volunteer

Sylvia is a final year social sciences student majoring in Psychology and Neuroscience and is an intern in the lab, assisting in the wild boar project. As a psychology student, she is passionate about investigating human perceptions and behaviours. She believes that it is important to disentangle contributing factors that lead to different attitudes or beliefs among people when analyzing social phenomena and conflict. Therefore, she finds it fascinating when she works with ideas of infusing elements of social sciences in conservation work.

Eric Lee- Technician

Eric provides invaluable research support and technical knowledge to all of our team. He also supports student teaching and and provides technical support to other faculty members.


  • Dr Josh Plotnik - Hunter College, City University of New York

  • Dr Lucy Bates - University of Sussex

  • Dr Janine Brown - Smithsonian Institute

  • Dr Michelle Henley - Elephants Alive

  • Prof Andrew Balmford - University of Cambridge

  • Prof George Wittemyer - Colorado State University

  • Dr Deborah Dawson - University of Sheffield

  • Mélody Busuttil - Université de Neuchâtel


  • Caitlin Black - Former Post-doc funded by my Branco Weiss Fellowship to measure tusk size, body size and age from photographs, now Post-doc at the University of Zürich.
  • Ronny Makukule - Former Field Assistant, now researcher at Elephants Alive.
  • Amy Morris-Drake - Former Research Assistant on communication, now PhD student at the University of Bristol.

  • Jessica Wilmot - Former Field Assistant, now Master's student at Central European University.

  • Christin Winter - Former Field Assistant. Now working for elephant non-profit in Namibia.

  • Sam Yue - Former Research Assistant on the wild boar project and continued collaborator. Now based in Canada.