“I hope that that Ig Nobel helps spur people’s interest in science”

Susanne Schötz with a cat

Susanne Schötz, Associate Professor in Phonetics at Lund University, was awarded the Ig Nobel prize in biology last week, with the motivation: “Susanne Schötz, Robert Eklund, and Joost van de Weijer, for analyzing variations in purring, chirping, chattering, trilling, tweedling, murmuring, meowing, moaning, squeaking, hissing, yowling, howling, growling, and other modes of cat-human communication.”

Congratulations! How were the last few days for you, after being awarded the Ig Nobel?

Very busy. I have been receiving congratulations from all over the world and also done quite a few interviews.

Briefly, how would you describe what your research is about?

We analyse the production and articulation and the acoustic properties of different cat call types, such as meowing, trilling, purring, chattering, yowling, growling and hissing. We are also studying how humans perceive the different sounds. By mapping vocal communicative signals onto different contexts and mental states, we hope to increase our understanding of the vocal communication of the domestic cat.

Why is a prize like the Ig Nobel important, in your opinion?

I hope that that the Ig Nobel helps spur people’s interest in science, medicine and technology – by awarding prizes to researchers working with unusual research questions that first make people laugh, and then think.

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