I am an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at Stony Brook University and Associate Co-director of the Simien Mountains Gelada Research Project in Ethiopia. I am broadly interested in developmental plasticity, behavioral endocrinology, reproductive physiology, sexual selection, and life history in non-human primates.
My research interests began as a graduate student at Stony Brook, where I studied how ecological and social factors influence female reproduction and mating strategies in wild Phayre’s leaf monkeys (Trachypithecus crepusculus phayrei). After finishing my Ph.D. in 2009 (advised by Dr. Carola Borries), I obtained postdocs at both the University of Michigan (advised by Dr. Jacinta Beehner) and the University of Illinois. During those years, I developed an interest in juvenile development, particularly the way social and ecological conditions can alter developmental phenotypes in adaptive and maladaptive ways. My current research focuses on socially stressful events such as alpha male replacement in wild geladas (Theropithecus gelada). Because these events are associated with an increased likelihood of infant death, mothers may curtail their investment in offspring as a cost-cutting strategy, potentially altering the developmental trajectories of infants. Although wild geladas are great models for examining the fitness impacts of early life events, the mechanisms linking early development and adult phenotype are often best evaluated in controlled captive settings. Towards this end, I am involved in collaborative research focusing on the hormonal, microbial, and other signaling pathways by which mothers “program” offspring development in captive vervet monkeys.