Sonoma State University Primate Ethology Lab Members

If you are an undergraduate, and you are interested in studying the behavior of animals in captivity, please make sure you meet the requirements for joining my lab and then contact me to see if there is an opening.

If you are interested in pursing a master's degree under my guidance, please go to my graduate studies page for more information.

Current Graduate Students

Yasmeen Ghavamian received her Bachelor’s in Biology from Sonoma State University in May 2018 and joined the SSUPER Lab as a Biology M.S. student in August 2018. Since 2016, Yasmeen has been a volunteer at the Animal Resource Center in the San Francisco Zoo and works hands on with a variety of mammals, reptiles and birds. From 2017-2018, she was a research assistant for Jessica Barber', studying the behavior of sun bears at the Oakland Zoo. Yasmeen's master's thesis will expand on her undergraduate work with the sun bears to provide the zoo with even more information about the behavior of this species. With experience working in zoos, Yasmeen is interested in connecting people with wildlife and raising awareness about important conservation issues.

(Photo courtesy of Yasmeen Ghavamian)


Holly Molinaro joined the SSUPER Lab as a Biology M.S. student in August 2018. She received her Bachelor’s in Biology from Stetson University where she completed her senior project on pygmy rattlesnake behavior.  With experience working in zoos and interning at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, she hopes to gain more knowledge in the field of animal behavior and zoo research.  Holly is studying the social network of hamadryas baboons at the Oakland Zoo.

(Photo courtesy of Holly Molinaro)


Current Undergraduate Students

Currently none for 2017-2018

External Research Partners

SSUPER Lab projects rely on close collaboration with research partners that support the lab's mission:

David Jaffe received an A.S. degree in Exotic Animal Training and Management from Moorpark College and a BA from San Diego State University. He has worked with exotic animals for over 20 years, including tigers at Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo CA, elephants at San Diego Safari Park, and hoofstock and large carivores at San Franciso Zoo. Mr. Jaffe is currently the owner of Zoo Solutions. Zoo Solutions creates and fabricates custom designs to solve the enrichment and husbandry needs of zoos. Mr. Jaffe previous fabrications include penguin nest boxes for the California Academy of Sciences, a puppy vestibule for Canine Companions for Independence, and snake shipping crates for San Francisco Zoo. He also designed and built enrichment devices for two SSUPER Lab projects.

Video of Oakland Zoo lemurs using the lemur smart feeders

Video of Oakland Zoo chimps using the chimp enrichment devices

(Photo courtesy of David Jaffe)


Darren Minier works to enhance animal welfare and conservation through the collection of accurate and reliable behavioral data that is translated into real-world, effective behavior management solutions. Since 2000, Mr. Minier has built and managed animal care, behavior management, and welfare programs with a large range of taxa in zoos, marine parks, sanctuaries, animal-assisted therapy, and biomedical research facilities both nationally and abroad. He received a Masters in Collections Management and Zoological Administration from George Mason University and AZA's Zoo and Aquarium Leadership Program, a BS from the UC Davis in Wildlife and Fish Conservation Biology focusing in Behavioral Ecology, and three degrees from the Exotic Animal Training and Management Program at Moorpark College. Mr. Minier is a Zoological Manager at Oakland Zoo overseeing the management of a diverse section of charismatic megafauna including ungulates, large carnivores, birds, reptiles, and primates. He also oversees the Zoo's research and animal care volunteer programs.

(Photo courtesy of Darren Minier)

Lab Alumni, Graduate Students

Jessica Barber (MS in Biology May 2018); currently Biology Support Faculty & Lead Lab Instructor at College of Western Idaho

Nicole Cornelius (MS in Biology May 2017); currently Scientific Aid with California Fish and Wildlife

Louisa Radosevich (MS in Biology 2017); currently Research Associate at San Diego Zoo Global studying rhinos

Penny (Wilson) Thomas (MS in Biology May 2016)

Adriana Lopez (MS in Biology May 2015); currently earning a teaching credential at Sonoma State University

Marcia Brown (posthumous MA in Interdisciplinary Studies (Biological Anthropology) awarded May 2010)

Brieanna Richards (MS in Biology May 2008); currently Biology Lecturer at College of Marin & Santa Rosa Junior College

Lab Alumni, Undergraduate Students


  • Yasmeen Gahvamian (Biology); currently MS student in Biology at Sonoma State University
  • Emily Humphrey (Biology); currently behavioral cognition intern at Caninie Companions for Indpendence


  • Whitney Clack (Biology)
  • Kylie Gretler (Biology)
  • Catherine Henderson (Biology)
  • William Volkov (Biology)


  • Donald Williams (Psychology; McNair Scholar); currently Ph.D. student in Animal Behavior at UC Davis
  • Nichole Berry (Biology)
  • Kaysie Lewis (Biology)


  • Kyle Runzel (Anthropology); currently MA student in Primatology at Central Washington University
  • Elizabeth Lemus (Anthropology)
  • Madeline Warnement (Environmental Studies & Planning)
  • Tori Bohnett (Psychology)
  • David Edwards (Biology); currently Bioprocess Technician at Genetech
  • Lauren Russ (Anthropology); currently Gorilla Resesarcher and Caretaker at the Gorilla Foundation
  • Nakita Devagras (Environmental Studies & Planning)
  • Rachel Austin (Anthropology)
  • Jefferson Scott (Biology)


  • Annamarie McPeck (Anthropology); Sales Manager at Inn at Perry Cabin by Belmond
  • Nicole Tilquist (Biology)
  • Gini Michels (Biology)
  • Bibi Rahimzada (Biology)
  • Andrew McCrory (Biology)


  • Anthony Aliamus (Biology)
  • Gillian King-Bailey (Biology); currently Ph.D. student in Anthropology at Tulane University
  • Natalie Hambalek (Biology; McNair Scholar); MS in Zoology from Oregon State; currently Internship Coordinator at CSU Monterery Bay


  • Kellyne Peterson (Anthropology; McNair Scholar) (May 2009-Dec. 2010); MA in Education from Sonoma State; currently teacher in Sonoma County
  • Marcia Brown (Anthropology) (Nov. 2007-May 2010) (MA in ITDS-Biological Anthropology from Sonoma State)
  • Shannon Hodges (Anthropology) (Mar.-Oct. 2007); currently Ph.D. student in Anthropology at Texas A&M University
  • Bonnie Lowery (Anthropology) (Mar.-Oct. 2007)

If you are a lab alum and would like me to update your career/education information, please email me.