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.

CHES Alum Wins Conservation Award

Stan KivaiCHES alumnus, Dr. Stan Kivai (2018) has received the prestigious Charles Southwick Conservation Education Commitment Award from the International Primatological Society. Besides the distinction of honoring Stan and his work, the award also provides financial support for a conservation project of his choosing in Kenya. Stan is Head of the Conservation Biology Department at the Institute of Primate Research in Nairobi, Kenya.

CHES Undergrad Affiliates' Senior Honors Achievements

Group shotFOUR CHES Undergraduate Affiliates today presented their Senior Honors Thesis research in a special symposium at the Department of Anthropology:

  1. Rohan Alibutud: "Prioritization of Autism Candidate Genes from Whole-Genome Sequences of Affected Families." Rohan's research on an immense genetic database has helped to identify autosomal genes that may be implicated the expression and diagnosis of the Autism Spectrum Disorder.
  2. Matt Baldes: "Area 116 and the Burgi Unconformity." Matt trekked off to Lake Turkana in northwestern Kenya in order to do this work clarifying the geology of a previously unmapped region Iin the Koobi Fora Formation, which has has yielded forth many important fossil discoveries about human evolution.
  3. Olivia Boss, "Comparative Dental Microwear Textural Analysis: Pitheciines, Alouatta, and Ateles." Olivia carefully investigate the teeth of preserved specimens of New World Monkeys kept at the American Museum of Natural History (New York City), shedding light on the relationship between the physical properties of foods (especially toughness" and patterns of microwear on teeth.
  4. Frank Short, "An Investigation of Orangutan Bimaturism through Continuous-Time Movement Modeling;" Using continuous-time movement modeling on a data set of wild orangutan ranging behavior from Borneo, Frank tested the hypothesis that two known forms, or "morphs" of adult male orangutans—one large, one smaller—are associated with different patterns of movements that are ultimately linked to different mating strategies.

Congrats to all four CHES Undergrads for these impressive research and scholarly achievements!. And special kudos must go to Rohan, Matt, and Olivia who were received the special recognition of being named "Henry Rutgers Scholars" by Rutgers, along with only 48 other undergraduates across the entire University this year!

CHES Faculty Wins Award

Photo of AguadoCHES Faculty member Jinchuan Xing is one of this year's recipients of the Board of Trustees Award for Excellence in Research. Jin is doing exciting research in genetics and evolutionary questions, some of which he presented in a CHES Featured Research Evening. Congratulations, Jin!

CHES Grad Gets Fulbright Fellowship

Photo of AguadoCHES Graduate Affiliate Will Aguado was just awarded a Fullbright IIE Fellowship to support his research in Indonesia, "The influence of plant secondary metabolites on diet selection in wild Bornean orangutans." This award will support a year of Will's field research at the Tuanan Orangutan Research Station. He will be studying how plant defensive compounds influence the feeding behavior and nutrient intake of wild orangutans. Congrats, Will!

2021 Lembersky Conference Topic Chosen

Photo of Lee CronkThe Lembersky Conferences in Human Evolutionary Studies have been an extremely productive and enlightening series of meetings address some particular aspect of evolution. The CHES faculty has now chosen the topic for the next Lembersky Conference to be held in 2021: "From the Genome to the General Assembly: Cooperation and Conflict across Domains." The conference is being organized by CHES Faculty Members Dr. Lee Cronk. As Dr. Cronk puts, it: "Whenever individuals work together toward shared goals, cooperation is the result. This is true whether those individuals are genes, cells, microbes, people, corporations, or nations. Among humans, cooperation occurs at levels ranging from families and friends to communities, markets, corporations, states, and, via both trade and international organizations, the entire world. Although we are most familiar with cooperation among people, it is also essential to life itself. Indeed, all of the major transitions in evolution – the emergence of the genome, the eukaryotic cell, multicellular organisms, animal societies, and human civilization – have involved quantum leaps in cooperation." The conference will bring together scholars, researchers, postdocs and graduate students from across the country and globe to share data, ideas, and plans for future studies.

Jeffrey Rogers Lecture

Jeffrey Rogers LectureDr. Jeffrey Rogers (Baylor College of Medicine, The Human Genome Sequencing Center) gave a lecture today entitled "What Ernst Mayr Didn't Know: Insights into Baboons and Other Primates from Whole Genome Sequencing". Dr. Rogers presented some of the new genetic data that he and his collaborators are using to reconstruct and clarify the evolutionary history of baboons over the last several million years. Dr. Rogers described the interplay of diverse processes of genetic introgression and admixture, natural selection, and geographic dispersal that have generated a complex and extremely fascinating story of how the six different kinds of baboons in the genus Papio (as well as possible "ghost lineages") came into existence in different parts of Africa. Data on other nonhuman primates, such as macaques, rounded out a stimulating afternoon.

Nicole Torosin Lecture

Nicole Torosin LectureDr. Nicole Torosin, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Genetics here at Rutgers University, presented a lecture today, "Genetic Variation in Howler Monkey TLR7 and TLR8: Potential Implications for Susceptibility to Yellow Fever Virus." Dr. Torosin's research focused on determining the genetic profiles of two sympatric species of wild howler monkeys in Argentina, before and after an outbreak of yellow fever virus. For reasons that are not entirely known, these primates are significantly more vulnerable than other New World Monkeys to contracting this disease, which was introduced to South America about 400 years ago. Dr. Torosin's study provided some intriguing evidence of some genetic change in these populations, as well as some behavioral changes. Very few other studies of this kind have been done on wild nonhuman primates.

Steve Weiner Lecture


Dr. Steve Weiner of the Weizmann Institute of Science gave a lecture today, "Microarchaeology and the Underlying Science." In his research, Dr. Weiner synthesizes Archaeology, Chemistry, and the Natural Sciences into an approach offering particularly powerful insights into the human past.

In the News...