Caitlin O’Connell

Caitlin O'Connell in the field, Gunung Palung National Park.

Caitlin O’Connell records behavioral data in the field, Gunung Palung National Park.

Caitlin has recently defended her Ph.D. at Boston University. She spent a full year, from 2013 to 2014, in Gunung Palung National Park, and witnessed an incredible amount of social and sexual behavior that we do not usually expect from Bornean orangutans.  Her work has explored when and why social behavior takes place in order to understand the costs and benefits of gregariousness for an ape that often ranges alone.  Her thesis looked at differences in the tendency for socializing, affiliation and agonism, stress, and parasites across different age-sex classes  and examined these factors within their ecological and social contexts.    Email:

Andrea DiGiorgio

Andrea DiGiorgio at the research camp, cleaning the drying oven for her fruit samples in Gunung Palung National Park

Andrea D. is a  PhD candidate at Boston University studying orangutan nutrition and habitat use. Her interests are in primate evolution, diet, and conservation. She conducted her doctoral fieldwork at the Cabang Panti Research station in Gunung Palung National Park. Andrea’s work investigates the nutrient drivers of orangutan foraging behavior, with a focus on non-fruit foods. Her research will provide the first statistical tests of linear (optimal foraging-based theories of nutrient and energy maximization and minimization) and geometric (balancing different nutrients within a complete diet) theories of food selection. She is also using movement ecology to understand how these endangered apes use their habitats to find scarce resources. Email:

Amy Scott

Amy Scott, enjoying an orangutan follow in Gunung Palung National Park during her pilot study

Amy is in the 5th year of her Ph.D. program at Boston University and is currently conducting her fieldwork in Gunung Palung National Park. She is interested in studying reproductive strategies of male and female orangutans. Orangutans are the only non-human primate that regularly practice forced copulations, but still female strategies indicate the importance of female choice. Amy is using behavioral data, genetic paternity determination, and ranging behavior to better understand these mating strategies.  Email:

Jacob Negrey

Jacob - Cheryl's Website

Jacob sits with a small group of chimpanzees as they socialize between meals.

Jacob Negrey is a doctoral candidate exploring primate social behavior in the context of health and disease. Jacob’s fieldwork takes him to Kibale National Park, Uganda, where he collects behavioral and biological data from the Ngogo chimpanzees, the largest wild chimpanzee community ever studied. For his dissertation, Jacob is investigating the immunological benefits of strong social relationships in chimpanzee societies.

Erin Kane

Dr. Erin Kane

Erin Kane is a postdoctoral research associate at Boston University, working with Dr. Cheryl Knott on a project examining life history influences on orangutan feeding ecology in Gunung Palung National Park, West Kalimantan, Indonesia, with an emphasis on nutritional and endocrine analysis. She completed her PhD at Ohio State University in 2017. Her dissertation examined the social, ecological, and reproductive consequences of seasonal changes in food availability for Diana monkeys living in Taï National Park, Côte d’Ivoire. She  is broadly interested in understanding primate responses to fluctuating food availability, particularly from socioecological, endocrine, and morphological perspectives. She also aims to make anthropology and primatology more inclusive and accessible sciences for a diverse group of scientists.


Andrea Blackburn

Andrea B

Andrea Blackburn follows an orangutan at Gunung Palung National Park

Andrea Blackburn is a doctoral candidate studying orangutan seed dispersal behavior. She will study which fruits orangutans are dispersing, the effectiveness of orangutan seed dispersal services, and how orangutan spatial movement patterns shape  seed dispersal behavior. Andrea will be spending a year at the Cabang Panti Research Station in Gunung Palung National Park to conduct her fieldwork. If orangutans are effective and critical seed dispersers, orangutans may be essential to the maintenance and regeneration of the tropical forests they inhabit.



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