2020 Annual Meeting: “Virtual Edition”

Thank you for making our MPIG 2020 virtual meeting a resounding success! More than 100 participants joined us on 16 October 2020 from 3:00 – 6:30 pm.

Please mark your calendars and join us in a moment of optimism – currently, we hope to meet in person for MPIG 2021, hosted by the Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago in October 2021!

Videos for the three sessions are archived here (scroll down for session information and information on our panelists):

Session 1: Ethics of Fieldwork During a Pandemic

Session 2: Activism in Primate Conservation

Sessions 3: Diversity and Inclusion in Primatology

About the Speakers:

Ethics of Fieldwork During a Pandemic:

Dominic Travis DVM, MS, is Associate Professor and Lead of the One Health Division at the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine.  He also holds appointments in the UMN School of Public Health and Institute on the Environment. Previously, he was Wildlife Epidemiologist and Vice President of Conservation and Science at the Lincoln Park Zoological Society in Chicago, USA. He has worked at the human-non human primate interface since 2000 as co-creator the Gombe Ecosystem Health Project, Scientific Advisor for Gorilla Doctors (previously MGVP) and the Primate Microbiome Project. Currently, he is helping organize infectious disease monitoring and health capacity development for the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance. He is co-editor of the OIE-IUCN Joint Guidelines for Risk Analysis at the Wildlife Interface; IUCN Best Practices for Wildlife Reintroductions and Best Practices for Monitoring Great Ape Health. His lab also hosts the Non Human Primate COVID-19 Information HUB (https://umnadvet.instructure.com/courses/324). His scholarly publications can be found via google scholar: https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=jjDYZHwAAAAJ

Dr. Thomas Gillespie is a Professor at Emory University and Rollins School of Public Health. He has studied human-primate interactions for more than 20 years within the context of disease transmission in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and Madagascar. Further details here: www.envs.emory.edu/faculty/GILLESPIE/Lab.html

Dr. George Omondi is an epidemiologist, and currently a postdoctoral associate at the University of Minnesota – College of Veterinary Medicine.  Dr. Omondi is a former wildlife veterinarian at the Kenya Wildlife Service, and Head Veterinarian and Manager of Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary, Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. His research focuses on developing diagnostic and analytical methods to improve diagnosis and understanding of the epidemiology of tuberculosis at the human-animal interface. Currently, Dr. Omondi is leading two broad research efforts. First, validating and optimizing the diagnosis of tuberculosis in nonhuman primates, and capacity building for veterinarians in infectious disease management. Secondly, the Mara Health Program – an integrated program in southwestern Kenya looking at zoonotic diseases at the human-livestock-wildlife interface, with a specific interest in epidemiology of zoonotic tuberculosis amongst other diseases. He serves as an advisor on the Pan-African Sanctuaries Alliance – Veterinary committee as part of a One Health Initiative aimed at integrating human and animal welfare.

Dr. Christopher Shaffer is an assistant professor of anthropology at Grand Valley State University in Michigan with research interests in the ecological and social interactions between humans and nonhuman primates. His work draws from multiple methodological and theoretical approaches within anthropology and ecology, and emphasizes integrating quantitative methodologies with ethnographic engagement. Dr. Shaffer is the principal investigator of the Konashen Ecosystem Health Project, a partnership between a multidisciplinary team of researchers and indigenous Waiwai in Guyana, South America focused on human-wildlife interactions and the intersection of biodiversity conservation, health, cultural identity, and indigenous rights. The primary goals of this project are developing methods for long-term co-management of subsistence hunting and the prevention of zoonotic disease transmission. Dr. Shaffer’s other research interests include the behavioral ecology of Pitheciine primates, particularly movement ecology, fission-fusion dynamics, and quantifying resource dispersion.

Activism in Primate Conservation:

Dr. Paul A. Garber is an Emeritus Professor in the Department of Anthropology and the Program in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, USA.  Dr. Garber is the former Executive Editor of the American Journal of Primatology (2008-2017) and was named the 2017 American Society of Primatologists Distinguished Primatologist. Dr. Garber has conducted primate field research in eight countries throughout Central and South America, as well as in China, and has published over 200 journal articles and book chapters (including 12 edited volumes) on the behavior, ecology, cognition, and conservation of nonhuman primates.  This includes several recent papers on the impending extinction crisis faced by the world’s primates.  Dr. Garber is the co-chair of the ASP Conservation Action Network and is the author of two papers (one published and one submitted) advocating for scientific activism and environmental justice.

Dr. Francine Dolins is a Comparative Psychologist with a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology and Behavioral Primatology (University of Stirling, Scotland), and BSc. in Biology (Behavioral Ecology, Evolutionary Theory and Animal Cognition) (University of Sussex, England). Her research focuses on primate cognition and behavior and cognitive-ecological modeling in the field and laboratory. Specifically, her research concentrates on questions regarding spatial cognition, navigation and foraging behavior, and in the context of group decision-making, social information transfer and group behavior. In the lab, she uses virtual reality (VR) to compare nonhuman and human primate spatial and social cognition. She also applies technology to enhance environmental enrichment of captive nonhuman primates. Dr. Dolins has received multiple research grants from the Templeton World Charity Foundation and The Ford Motor Company. She has edited three volumes with Cambridge University Press, Attitudes to Animals,Spatial Cognition – Spatial Perception, and Spatial Analysis in Field Primatology: Applying GIS at Varying Scales. As an Associate Professor at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, she teaches in the Psychology and Psychobiology majors, the Health and Clinical Health Psychology Masters, and the Masters Program in Human Centered Design Studies, and is also the Director of the Psychology Honors Program. Additionally, she has been active in furthering conservation education in primary education by working with teachers in the United States and Madagascar (the Ako Project). Dr. Dolins is also co-chair of the Conservation Action Network in the American Society of Primatology, an international primate conservation initiative.

Dr Sylvia Atsalis holds 25+ years in research, education, customized professional development & advising, and in generating innovative programming for students & young professionals in the US and internationally in varied educational settings, from workshops to leading study abroad programs as well as heading college career offices. She is devoted to wildlife conservation and preserving fragile ecosystems. For her PhD and as National Geographic Explorer, her conducted the first long term field study in Madagascar on one of the world’s smallest living primate, the nocturnal, solitary, 40 gr mouse lemur, Microcebus rufus. Later, she conducted the only national study on zoo-housed female gorillas that focused on reproduction, sexual behavior and menopause. Since 2008, she has been involved in international capacity building efforts for which I co-developed and implemented numerous professional training workshops for students and early career professionals in Asia, Africa and South America, impacting 150+ students representing 12+ countries. Through a 2019-2020 Fulbright Scholarship award, she continues her commitment to developing strong conservation citizenship, leadership, and research potential in Suriname, a country that maintains much of its rainforest and hosts 8 primate species. Finally, as the Founder and Independent Consultant of Professional Development for Good, she supports students and early career professionals seeking careers in STEM, service, government, policy, environment and conservation. Notable book publications include The Natural History of the Brown Mouse Lemur and Primate Reproductive Aging; Cross-Taxon Perspectives. Website

Dr. Martin Kowalewski is a biologist, anthropologist, and researcher at CONICET-Argentina. He is the President of Argentinean Association of Primatology (APRIMA), an official in the Society of LatinAmerican Primatology (SLAPRIM), and Vice Chair for the South Cone (Arg-Bol-Uru-Par) PSG-IUCN. He studied at the Universidad de Buenos Aires -Argentina, at Stony Brook University in New York, and received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at  Urbana-Champaign.  Dr. Kowalewski’s research on primate behavioral ecology, social affinity, co-operative behavior,  the role of wild animals in the dynamics of infectious diseases, and primate conservation has focused on howler monkeys (Alouatta caraya) and other native fauna. He says that studying animals is not enough to conserve them and that is why he explores paths that combine research with activism for the conservation of biodiversity.

Diversity and Inclusion in Primatology:

Dr. Michelle A. Rodrigues received her B.S. in Psychology and B.S. Ecology, Ethology, and Evolution from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, an M.A. in Anthropology from Iowa State University, and PhD in Biological Anthropology from The Ohio State University. Her research focuses on the evolution of female social relationships, stress biology, and human-primate interactions across the primate order. Her teaching interests focus on biological anthropology, human biology, and primatology, and she is excited to bring some new perspectives on how racism and colonialism shape these fields.

Dr. Laura Abondano is a primatologist from Colombia. She completed her B.S. in Biology at the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia, and her MA and PhD in Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin. Her research focuses on the reproductive strategies of woolly monkeys from a behavioral, endocrinological, and genetic approach. Aside from her work with lowland woolly monkeys in the Ecuadorian Amazon, Laura is currently working towards building a community-based conservation initiative for the endangered gray woolly monkeys in the Peruvian Andes. As a Latinx scientist, Laura is always looking for ways to make science more accessible for underrepresented communities, especially among those living in habitat countries, where many primatologists conduct their fieldwork, and where English is not commonly the first language.

Raymond Vagell is a first-generation, queer Asian American primatologist and animal behaviorist. He grew up in Malaysia and later immigrated to New York City to pursue his academic career. Raymond’s research interests include primate cognition, perception, and welfare. His latest research project is training ruffed lemurs to use computer touchscreen for discrimination tasks at Duke Lemur Center in Durham, North Carolina. Raymond received his B.A. in Anthropology from Queens College (CUNY), M.A. in Animal Behavior & Conservation from Hunter College (CUNY), and is currently an Anthropology PhD student at Texas State University.

Emily R. Boeving is an LGBTQ primatologist and comparative psychologist. She received her M.Sc. in Evolutionary Anthropology from Durham University and will complete her Ph.D. in Psychology from Florida International University in December 2020. Emily uses the advanced computation of network analytics to study the development of social networks and relationships between cognitive skill and social network position in non-human primates, avian models, and humans.