Vol. 67, No. 1 | Summer 2022

In Memoriam

Julie Morand-Ferron, PhD 1977 - 2022

Written by Louis Lefebvre, McGill University, Montréal, Québec
Photos: University of Ottawa and CULTMTL

Julie Morand-Ferron, a rising star in the field of animal cognition, has died prematurely of cancer on 13 February 2022 at the age of 44. She was born in Shawinigan, Québec, and did her undergraduate degree at Laval University, where she worked with Jeremy McNeil. She then went on to do a PhD at McGill University with me (Louis Lefevbre). Julie's doctoral work combined field observations, aviary experiments, game theory and phylogenetic comparative methods to look at innovation, kleptoparasitism and producing and scrounging in Carib grackles.

Julie then did a postdoc with Luc-Alain Giraldeau at University of Quebec at Montreal, before moving to Oxford University to work with John Quinn. There, she developed automated cognitive tests for birds in the wild and collaborated on the doctoral work of Lucy Aplin and Ella Cole. This led to important papers on cultural transmission and the fitness consequences of learning.

Coming back to Canada, Julie was hired by the University of Ottawa and in 2017 was awarded the Research Chair in Cognitive Ecology. She published over 60 papers in her short career and co-edited two thematic issues of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.

In addition to science, Julie had a parallel career in music. With her musical and life partner Eric Trottier, she sang and wrote for the electro and synth-pop bands 011 and Violence. 011 won the MIMI best electronic group award in 2006 and was invited to play at the Osheaga and Francofolies festivals in Montréal. Violence had an international fan base and when Julie traveled to give scientific talks, she and Eric gave shows in places like Tokyo, Berlin and New-York. Julie's ethereal voice can be heard on several songs available on Bandcamp and elsewhere.



Julie was a frequent participant at ABS meetings and her excellent and intellectually stimulating research presentations were always anticipated and well attended. Her enthusiastic, effervescent, and friendly personality contributed to the success and enjoyment of many ABS meetings.

Friends, fans and colleagues (including those at ABS) will all miss her intelligence and joy. Besides her partner Eric, Julie leaves behind a two-year-old daughter, Eulalie. ABS mourns her untimely and immeasurable loss and extends deepest condolences to her family and friends.

Notable Publications:
Morand-Ferron, J., Giraldeau, L.A., Lefebvre, L. (2007). Wild Carib grackles play a producer–scrounger game. Behavioral Ecology 18, 916-921.

Morand-Ferron, J., Hamblin. S., Cole, E.F., Aplin, L.M., Quinn, J.L. (2015). Taking the operant paradigm into the field: associative learning in wild great tits. PloS One 10, e0133821.

Aplin, L.M., Farine, D.R., Morand-Ferron, J., Cockburn, A., Thornton, A, Sheldon, B.C. (2015). Experimentally induced innovations lead to persistent culture via conformity in wild birds. Nature 518, 538-541.

Cole, E.F., Morand-Ferron, J., Hinks, A.E., Quinn, J.L. (2012). Cognitive ability influences reproductive life history variation in the wild. Current Biology 22, 1808-1812.

Morand-Ferron, J. (2017). Why learn? The adaptive value of associative learning in wild populations. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences 16, 73-79.

Julie, on left, playing with band “Violence”



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