Biological anthropology; primate behavioral ecology; great ape socioecology; hominin evolution; primate cognition; primate conservation; reproductive ecology; field methods in primatology; human evolutionary biology.
My research interests are in the area of primate socioecology, specifically the evolution of social relationships among female primates and the adaptive value of friendships. Humans are the most behaviorally flexible and diverse species on the planet, and this has contributed significantly to our success as a species. To understand the origins and evolution of behavioral diversity, my research turns to our nearest living relatives, the chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and bonobos (Pan paniscus). Until recently, very little was known about the behavior, especially social behavior, of female chimpanzees. For my research, I seek to help fill this gap in our knowledge. Thus, my current research focuses on understanding the dynamics of social relationships and social networks among wild female chimpanzees. I am examining both the costs and benefits of gregariousness among females to explore the underlying ecological, demographic, and physiological causes of variation in social behavior within females of the same population. In addition, I am collaborating with other researchers to conduct comparative research across populations. In the near future, I will expand my research to include studies on wild female bonobos. I plan to collect data on social relationships among female bonobos to be able to address cross-species comparisons in the Genus Pan.