Undergraduate Institution: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Undergraduate Major: Anthropology and Chinese
MAPSS Graduation Year: 2011
I came to MAPSS with a general interest in primatology, but without particular direction or a specific species of interest. Fortunately, through MAPSS I was able to connect with the Lester E Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes at Lincoln Park Zoo, and join the internship program they offer. Through my internship I came to be interested in zoo-based animal welfare and behavior research. At the University of Chicago, the courses I took in primatology, statistics, and academic writing (Little Red Schoolhouse) all contributed greatly to my growth as a scientist, in conjunction with the data collection training I received at the Fisher Center. My thesis, entitled “Behavioral Effects of Providing a Choice for Outdoor Access to Captive Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla)” investigated the effects of giving gorillas the choice to use the outdoors, even when they chose to stay inside. Dr. Elizabeth Lonsdorf, then Director of the Fisher Center, served as my faculty advisor. Since my internship, I have been a paid research assistant at the Fisher Center for almost three years, and in the fall of 2015 I am starting a PhD program in Biology at Case Western Reserve University, in which I will also have responsibilities at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. MAPSS gave me the connections to the research and zoo world I needed, and set me on the path to the career I want.