Dominic Sivitilli

Always curious about life and intellect, Dominic Sivitilli’s first memories of working date back to his family’s small farm. While he spent time mending fences and maintaining the yard, his favorite task was feeding the ever-rotating animals at their residence. As his work ethic grew, his exposure on the farm sparked his interest in animal behavior.

Now, a PhD Student in behavioral neuroscience and astrobiology at the University of Washington, Sivitilli leads a research team in the Laboratory of Comparative Systems Neuroscience. Instead of working with horses or goats, he spends a lot of time studying octopuses and their behavior as an alternative model for intelligence. He says there’s plenty to learn from these smart, eight-armed creatures.

Sivitilli is excited about “being on the frontier of human knowledge.” He’s been interviewed for his research by Nova as well as Science Friday. “We are not the only kinds of intelligence,” says Sivitilli, “it’s important to consider the diverse forms the mind can take on Earth and in the universe beyond.”

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