Education and Research

Educational Background

I received my B.A. degree in Anthropology (concentration in Biological Anthropology) from the University of California, San Diego in 1994. I received my M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Anthropology from the University of California, Davis in 1997 and 2002, respectively, where I worked with Dr. Lynne A. Isbell. I have been a faculty member in the Department of Anthropology at Sonoma State University since August, 2002.

Research Interests

I am a biological anthropologist with research interests in applied primatology and primate behavioral ecology. I have conducted research in Kenya, Grenada, and at CRES (Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species) at the San Diego Zoo. I currently collaborate with the San Francisco Zoo, Oakland Zoo, and Safari West in Sonoma County.

My current research focuses on applied ethology, using scientific methods of studying animal behavior to solve real-world problems. The Sonoma State University Primate Ethology Research Lab helps match advanced undergraduate and graduate students with projects that local zoos are interested in conducting so that they can better understand the animals they care for. The lemur smart feeder project (including Dr. Suzanne Rivoire, Dr. Karin Jaffe, Penelope Wilson, Darren Minier, David Jaffe, Jaeger (the lemur) and Elizabeth Abram; pictured left to right), is a collaboration between Oakland Zoo and the SSU Primate Ethology Research Lab study the effects of enviornmental enrichment (i.e., 'smart feeders' that we designed and built) on the activity levels of lemurs and the interest of zoo visitors. You can listen to us explain our project in a KCRB radio interview.

To find out more about my lab and how to get involved, please check out the SSUPER website to see if you meet the minimum qualifications to join my lab, or read the May 2013 Press Democrat article about me and my lab or the January 2014 article in the Sonoma State Star. You can also read about the students who are conducting research in the SSUPER lab. Interested in the possibility of pursuing a master's degree in the SSUPER lab? Please view my page about graduate studies.

My dissertation research focused on the relationship between habitat structure and the habitat structure and the anti-predator behavior of patas (Erythrocebus patas) and vervet (Cercopithecus aethiops) monkeys in Laikipia, Kenya. I was interested in the strategies vervets and patas employ to escape from predators such as leopards, eagles and snakes, and how these strategies change depending on the structure of the immediate environment (e.g., tree height, canopy cover, grass density).I have also studied alarm calling behavior in vervet and patas monkeys. Patas monkeys give "bark-grunt" and "nyow" vocalizations in response to terrestrial predators, such as leopards (video courtesy of Marcia Brown). I do not currently have an active field site. You can find more information about my research by looking at my publications.