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Stephanie Marciniak Lecture

Today, Stephanie Marciniak, presented a fascinating lecture entitled "The Promises and Challenges of Primate Paleogenomics: Insights from the Nuclear Genome of a Large Extinct Lemur Megaladapis edwardsi." Dr. Marciniak, who is a postdoctoral researcher at Penn State University, is using her analyses of DNA and ancient DNA to shed much light on puzzles about the the evolution of primates, such as the gorilla-sized Megaladapis edwardsi lemur, as well as clarify the evolutionary history of human adaptations. Besides this work, Dr. Marciniak has also studied evolutionary aspects of human pathogens, such as the malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum.

Stephanie Marciniak

CHES Grad Affiliate Passes Dissertation Defense

Ballare committeeCHES Graduate Affiliate Elizabeth Ballare passed her doctoral dissertation defense today. Liz’s dissertation “Health Effects of Rehabilitation and Reintroduction on Bornean Orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii)” is based on her two-year fieldwork study in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia at the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) Nyaru Menteng Rehabilitation Centre and the BOSF Bukit Batikap Reintroduction Forest. Liz also completed laboratory training in the College of Medicine at the University of Florida and one year of laboratory analyses in the Laboratory for Primate Dietary Ecology and Physiology at Rutgers University. Liz’s research was an investigation of the health of orangutan populations in different stages of rehabilitation and reintroduction. Along with a team of assistants and student counterparts, Liz collected urine samples from each population noninvasively and quantified biomarkers of protein balance, energy balance, inflammation, and immune system responsiveness as proxies. She compared these analytes within and amongst each population as well as with data from a wild population, the Tuanan Orangutan Research Project, also in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Liz’s research showed how existing physiological methodologies can be used to assess the health of rehabilitant and reintroduced orangutans and how it can be used to make recommendations in program protocols. Additionally, her research showed how conservation physiology can be used as a tool to objectively measure rehabilitation and reintroduction efforts and create a collaborative community of researchers, conservationists, and governmental and non-governmental organizations. The knowledge gained from her project will provide critical insights into releasing these critically endangered animals and help build a health plan for orangutan rehabilitation and reintroduction that can maximize their survival and fitness in the wild.

BallareBeginning with the photo on the top right and moving counter-clockwise, the members of her committee were Erin Vogel (Dissertation Committee Chair and Director of the Laboratory for Primate Dietary Ecology and Physiology), Henry John-Alder (Professor and Department Chair of the Graduate Program in Ecology and Evolution), Julie Lockwood (Professor and Department Chair of the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources), and Lyle (Linc) Moldawer (outside committee member; Science Research Professor of Surgery, College of Medicine, University of Florida). Liz is highlighted at the bottom in yellow. Congratulations Liz!

CHES Grad Affiliates Complete 2nd Year Colloquium

Three CHES Graduate Affiliates in the Anthropology Department did their "Second Year Colloquium" presentations today. This Colloquium allows graduate students in their second year in the PhD program an opportunity to present and discuss with faculty and other students their developing ideas for the doctoral dissertation research focused on some aspect of evolution. This year, three students described their plans in the Zoom meeting, moving from left to right in the photo:

Kyra Johnson: "A Multilvel Approach to the Identification of Burnt Bones in the Archaeological Record"

Andrew Schwartz: "Mammal Dietary Change During the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM)"

Anissa Speakman: "Cryptic Choice: Female Copulation Calls and Male Ejaculation in Primates"

Congratulations Kyra, Andrew, and Anissa!

Kyra Johnson, Andrew Schwartz, and Anissa Speakman

CHES Undergrad Alum, JP Calcitrai, Admitted to PhD Program!

CalcitraiCHES Undergraduate Affiliate Alumnus, John, or as he's known among us here, JP Calcitrai (Rutgers Class of 2018) was just admitted to the PhD Program in Animal Behavior at the University of California, Davis. JP will commence his PhD career next Fall, working under the supervision of Jeff Schank in the Psychology Department. JP is interested in better understanding the evolution of complex social systems. He will combine the computational methods used by Schank's lab with a field-based approach inspired, in part, by his participation in two field schools run by CHES faculty, the Primatology, Wildlife Ecology and Conservation in Kenya (the source of this photo of JP with a local nonhuman inhabitant) and the Primates, Ecology, and Conservation in Indonesia. While he was here at Rutgers, JP was a recipient of the CHES Barry C. Lembersky Undergraduate Research Award to support his Senior Honors Thesis Research on "Stress and Sociality in Wild Bornean Orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii). Congratulations JP!

CHES Grad Alex Pritchard Passes Doctoral Dissertation Defense

CHES Graduate Affiliate Alex Pritchard; Ryne Palombit (Chair, and Director of Project Papio in Kenya), Erin Vogel (Director of the Laboratory for Primate Dietary Ecology and Physiology), Susan Cachel, and Alecia Carter (outside committee member from University College, London)CHES Graduate Affiliate Alex Pritchard passed his doctoral dissertation defense today. Alex's dissertation "Variation of Stress Coping in a Socially Complex Primate" is based on his field research on olive baboons (Papio anubis) he conducted for 18 months at the Project Papio Research Site in Kenya, followed by laboratory analyses he conducted at SUNY Stony Brook and Rutgers. Alex's study was a wide-ranging investigation involving carefully designed, noninvasive field experiments to characterize variation in "coping style" in adult baboons, systematic measurement of behavior, social network analysis, and collection and analysis of fecal glucocorticoid samples. Alex's insightful work improves our understanding of the interplay of "personality" dimensions (e.g., coping style and stress reactivity), but, unlike most previous research in Animal Behavior, on a species of primate characterized by significant social complexity. The members of his committee were, starting from Alex's image in the center of the photo, and moving clockwise: Ryne Palombit (Dissertation Committee Chair, and Director of Project Papio in Kenya), Erin Vogel (Director of the Laboratory for Primate Dietary Ecology and Physiology, where Alex performed some of his hormonal analyses), Susan Cachel, and Alecia Carter (outside committee member from University College, London). Congratulations, Alex!

CHES Graduate Affiliate Alex Pritchard with baboon

Curtis Marean CHES Lecture

Dr. Curtis Marean, Arizona State UniversityToday, Curtis Marean gave the first lecture in the CHES Lecture Series for this semester. Dr. Marean's presentation was entitled, "A General Model for the Paleoecology of the Now Submerged Palaeo-Agulhas Plain, An Extinct Ecosystem Crucial to Modern Human Origins," based upon this many years of research in Africa. Dr. Marean's research addresses not only ecological questions about human evolution, such as the shift toward exploitation of reliable resources in a marine coastal context about 110,000 years ago, but also the origins of the "hyperprosocial" tendencies that define humans and distinguishes them from other creatures.

CHES Alum Publishes Genetics Paper

JaniakCHES Alumna Dr. Mareike Janiak (2018) is a coauthor of a newly published study using genomics to better understand the ecology and life history of primates. Compared to other mammals, nonhuman (as well as human) primates are characterized by especially pronounced longevity, brain size and dietary flexibility. The reasons for this interesting constellation of traits remains a topic of intensive study and debate. Through genetic, physiological, and genetic data collected on wild white-faced capuchin monkeys (Cebus imitator) of Costa Rica, the team of which Dr. Mareike is a part, has shed some new light on this discussion. Interested in reading more? Check out the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America!

CHES Alum Wins Second Conservation Award

KivaiCHES Almunus Dr. Stan Kivai (2018), who earlier this summer received an award from the International Primatological Society has just won another prestigious award! Dr. Kivai is the recipient of the American Society of Primatologists Conservationist Award of the Year 2020. as the ASP Conservation Committee put it in their announcement to Dr. Kivai, "The committee was humbled by the contributions that all the nominees are making to primate conservation. Your work stood out as truly exceptional and your approach to conservation training, research and outreach was described as passionate and tireless. Congratulations Dr. Kivai!

CHES Faculty Member & CHES Associate Publish Paper

Cronk Townsend CHES faculty member Dr. Lee Cronk and his collaborator, former CHES Associate Member Dr. Carolyn Townsend, have just published an important paper on generosity in humans. Drs. Cronk and Townsend have studied the Ik people of Uganda (the photo shows Cronk and Townsend in the field in Uganda). Published in the journal Evolutionary Human Sciences, their new data and analyses challenge some of the conclusions of previous research on the Ik, who were once viewed by some Anthropologists of the 1970s as "selfish" and "uncooperative." Cronk and Townsend's study not only reveals significant cooperation within this culture, but underscores the more general conclusion that humans are "remarkably cooperative.

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