3/14/2018 Peter Durantine

Lonsdorf’s Stanford Fellowship to Focus on Wild Chimp Research

Franklin & Marshall College’s Associate Professor of Psychology Elizabeth Lonsdorf, who studies chimpanzee behavior at the world-famous Gombe Stream Research Centre in Tanzania, received a prestigious fellowship at Stanford University for the 2018-19 academic year.

F&M’s chair of the Biological Foundations of Behavior program will join 36 scholars from around the world at Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, a leading incubator of knowledge that aims to enhance the understanding of human behavior. The incoming class of fellows come from diverse fields that include anthropology, classics, communication, law, medicine and psychology.    

Lonsdorf’s long-term research goal is to use wild chimpanzees as a model for the evolutionary roots of human development. She examines how chimpanzee mother-infant interactions, sibling interactions, health, personality and offspring sex integrate and influence development.

  • Elizabeth Lonsdorf, associate professor of animal behavior Elizabeth Lonsdorf, associate professor of animal behavior Image Credit: Office of Communications

For the past 10 years, Lonsdorf has worked with her other Gombe colleagues to design, populate and analyze a relational database of chimpanzee infant behavioral data that British primatologist and Gombe founder Jane Goodall initiated in 1970. Lonsdorf also leads a long-term project using non-invasive methods to monitor health in the same chimpanzees. As a fellow, Lonsdorf will work on a series of papers using these data sets to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the multiple factors that influence developing chimpanzees.

"We are finally able to integrate multiple data streams on behavior, health and personality in wild chimpanzees to better understand the numerous factors that influence offspring development in our closest living relative,” Lonsdorf said. “I look forward to examining and refining these integrative questions in a community of CASBS fellows with diverse and unique expertise. "

The fellowship‘s alumni since its 1954 inception include 26 Nobel Laureates, 24 Pulitzer Prize winners, 51 MacArthur fellows, and 26 National Medal of Science winners. 

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