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Meet Lucia

16/09/2022 |

Lucia Carvahlo Neco standing in front of flower wall UWA


Meet Lucia (she/her) – Feminist, social scientist and passionate arachnophile 🕷️

When we sat down with Lucia to hear her story, she had just won the Overall Award at UWA’s Three Minute Thesis competition and her work blew our minds. True to this award, the most engaging researchers are often incredible storytellers; communicating their complex work to audiences beyond their field. Lucia proved to be one of those researchers. Here is her story, in her own words.

I definitely did not walk a straightforward academic path to philosophy, beginning my journey in Brazil in a Bachelor of Science, and a Masters in Experimental Psychology. However, I have always been fascinated by social behaviour, so I ended up studying the social behaviour of spiders for years. Yes, spiders! Yes, years!

I was always interested in questions that did not seem to be answered by scientific enquiry. What became clear to me in that search was that I was asking the wrong scientific questions. In fact, my questions were philosophical, not scientific. For example, when my social spiders showed me complex social behaviours, there was nothing in animal behavioural science to support that complexity. Furthermore, social sciences seemed to limit sociality to human behaviour only. Philosophy, by contrast, comes from a place of questioning beyond observation and has the ability to connect the research in different fields. Philosophical enquiry allowed me to ask if there was a relationship between social phenomena that transcended species. It is important to sat, though, that the boundaries between philosophy and the sciences are often not clear cut, they borrow from each other.”

My research is intentionally multidisciplinary, integrating biological, social, and cognitive sciences in order to build a clearer framework for studying social phenomena. Humans are not alone in the realm of social reality; we share this space with diverse entities, maybe even more than just animals.

We wanted to know how Lucia managed to get the complexity of her research into a three-minute presentation.

“Put simply, the 3MT was really hard! But I had wonderful support from the Graduate Research School, and despite winning the night, I actually had one of those ‘freeze’ moments you hear about with performers. That was a first for me, as I am usually comfortable presenting, and it was terrifying – I forgot my words and had to compose myself in the three-minute timeframe – but I got there. As I was saying to friends after, it made the experience such a ‘life moment’, where you learn the things you are capable of. Cheesy, but true!”

If I could change anything about our world, our society, right now, it would be to universalise access to learning opportunities and knowledge. One of the most interesting characteristics to human beings is the capacity for curiosity and the ability to learn. I believe that these characteristics need to be stimulated and nurtured in everyone. Our society should value and prioritise them.

Click below to watch Lucia's 3MT presentation:

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