Caitlin O’ Connell
Caitlin is in the final year of her Ph.D. at Boston University. She is currently writing up her dissertation on the sociality of wild orangutans. 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 explores the contexts in which social behavior takes place and the details of those events in order to understand the costs and benefits of gregariousness for an ape that is so often referred to as solitary. In addition to some very interesting behavioral findings, she has also been analyzing intestinal parasite infection in the wild orangutans of Gunung Palung, and thus far her results have shown very intriguing patterns. She is examining these findings within their behavioral and ecological contexts.
Andrea is a 4th year PhD student at Boston University studying orangutan nutrition and habitat use. Her interests are in primate evolution, diet, and conservation. She is currently conducting 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.
Amy is in the 2nd year of her Ph.D. program at Boston University. She is currently taking classes and working on a pilot study for her dissertation fieldwork. 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 plans to use behavioral data, genetic paternity determination, and information about ranging behavior to better understand these mating strategies.
Jacob Negrey is a third year doctoral student 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 will investigate the immunological benefits of strong social relationships in chimpanzee societies.