GREAT APE TRACKING
As of now, there are a number of biological and logistical factors that have prevented our ability to track apes with GPS tags. My postdoctoral research is dedicated to developing technologies and methods for the long term, remote monitoring of great apes. I am involved in both the design of the tracking technology itself, as well as developing machine learning models to monitor the behavior of tagged individuals. This work will help further our ability to monitor wild and rehabilitated ape populations in the future.
As part of my postdoc, I am currently contributing to a large scale movement analysis of fruit eating mammals in Panama, where we are studying the many ways to be a frugivore. More specifically, we are trying to learn if being smarter (having a bigger brain) leads to being better at acquiring resources.
Nutritional Balancing 2014-2016
My dissertation work at the Tuanan research station in Borneo was centered on understanding the relationships between decision making, memory, and nutrition. I tried to understand goal directed behavior from the perspective of nutritional balancing, and examined how the spatial decisions of orangutans translate to nutritional targets. I employed various remote sensing, machine learning, and movement modeling techniques to break open the black box that is cognitive foraging.
Two years of data on nutritional balancing by orangutans demonstrating seasonal variation.
I want to understand the ways in which animals are important to ecosystem function. I took an experimental approach to studying soil limitation at Tuanan, and examined the role orangutans play in facilitating nutrient recycling.
In Borneo, I became interested in the consequences of the annual fires, and joined a collaborative effort to investigate the relationship between local fire dynamics, fire pollution, and phenology at Tuanan.
Prior to graduate school, I had the opportunity to work on several projects with the California National Primate Research Center (CNPRC) and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI). At CNPRC, I worked as a research assistant studying the effects of prenatal iron deprivation on rhesus macaque behavior and development. With STRI, I worked as a field assistant studying ranging and seasonal reproductive stress in female spider monkeys in Panama, and aided in a study of ranging and collective decision making in olive baboons in Kenya.