Skip to content


Fellows Directory

Alejandro Kacelnik

Alejandro Kacelnik

Professor Alejandro Kacelnik FRS


Elected: 2011


Alex Kacelnik is a zoologist and behavioural ecologist whose research into animal cognition combines data and methods from zoology, psychology and economic theory. He developed scalar utility theory, a theoretical framework for understanding risk perception in animals that helps behavioural scientists to interpret data from a wide range of experiments.

Alex’s work is diverse. For instance, he carried out original research on the use of tools by animals and investigated the thought processes involved in learning new skills, specifically with New Caledonian crows. He has also studied the impact of learning on decision making in risky circumstances in both animals and humans, as well as the mechanisms that animals use to make choices.

He has published over 200 scientific papers during his career and won awards that include the Comparative Cognition Society’s Research Award in 2011, the 2004 Cogito Prize for his contributions to furthering collaboration between the humanities and natural sciences and the de Robertis Medal for contributions to neuroscience. He is the founder of the Behavioural Ecology Research Group at the University of Oxford.

Professional positions

Emeritus Fellow, Pembroke College, University of Oxford
Emeritus Professor of Behavioural Ecology, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Anatomy, physiology and neurosciences
    • Experimental psychology, Behavioural neuroscience
  • Organismal biology, evolution and ecology
    • Ethology, Evolution, Ecology (incl behavioural ecology)
Was this page useful?
Thank you for your feedback
Thank you for your feedback. Please help us improve this page by taking our short survey.