According to a recent Gallop poll, 42% of Americans believe in a Creationist view of human evolution. Surprisingly, this number has remained roughly the same since 1982. It is our responsibility as scientists, especially scientist interested in human origins, to work on increasing public acceptance of evolution. Over the past several years, I have engaged in several outreach efforts aimed to do just that through scientific education, media and online presence, and public talks on issues related to anthropology, primatology, and biology.
SOCIAL COGNITION IN CAPUCHINS, UTN, Costa Rica, June 2017-present
In collaboration with La Universidad Technica Nacional in Costa Rica, we have initiated a field site and research station in La Reserva Forestal Taboga. The Capuchins of Taboga project is dedicated to increasing scientific awareness, conservation efforts, and improving sustainability in the area. Currently, we give bi-annual talks to students and the public interested in ecotourism. We have several future endeavors including starting a field school, teaching classes on the flora and fauna of the area to students in Costa Rica and from US institutions, and creating a fully sustainable field station.
SCIENCE COMMUNICATION FELLOW, awarded May 2016
Happy to announce that as of May 2016 I completed the Science Communication Fellows Program at the University of Michigan. This program aims to bring scientists and public audiences together in face-to-face interactions that promote appreciation
and understanding of current scientific research.
FLAME CHALLENGE 2016, Gelada sounds video, January 2016
Presenting our entry to the 2016 Flame Challenge. The Flame Challenge is an international competition for scientists that is aimed to encourage children’s interests in the sciences. This year’s question, “what is sound?” is of particular interest to my research and the graduate students of the University of Michigan Gelada Research Project. With this music video we hope to teach kids not only what sound is but how sound is critical for obtaining information about friends and strangers. The music in this video is composed entirely from recorded gelada monkey vocalizations (thanks Paul Alexander Gonzalez ). Thanks to Julie Jarvey, Elizabeth Tinsley Johnson, Todd Nichols for acting/vocals and the rest of the crew for helping out Chelsea Fisher Rachna Reddy Sharmi Sen Morgan Gustison Maire Malone.
KAMP KURAT, August 2014
Kamp Kurat is a weekend family heritage camp mixing recreation with educational workshops and Ethiopian cultural activities. Along with a fellow graduate student Morgan Gustison, we lead two 45-min workshops on gelada behavior, vocalizations, and conservation to 4-12 yr olds. During the workshop, titled "Chatty Monkeys on the Roof of Africa", participants learned to listen, imitate, and differentiate between different gelada vocalizations and discuss what geladas might be talking about. In addition, we discussed the scientific method, primatology, and the importance of conserving the Simien Mountains National Park. The workshop was met with enthusiasm from parents and children alike. We look forward to presenting again next year!
CONSERVING THE SIMIEN MOUNTAINS EXHIBITION & FESTIVAL, June 2013
The gelada project is strongly committed to increasing conservation awareness, scientific education and diversity. Geladas are listed as “rare” and SMNP is currently listed as a “World Heritage Site in Danger” (by the IUCN). Recently, Dr. Jacinta Beehner and Dr. Thore Bergman, co-directors of the University of Michigan Gelada Research Project, established “Save the Simiens”, a nonprofit dedicated to raising money to aid with conservation efforts in the SMNP. As a board member, I presented on gelada behavior and conservation at the 1st Ethiopian Wildlife Exhibition Festival in Addis Ababa in June 2013.