The University of Michigan Gelada Research Project is co-directed by Jacinta Beehner, an associate professor in the Anthropology and Psychology departments at UM, and Thore Bergman, an associate professor in Psychology and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UM.
|Thore Bergman is an Associate professor in the Departments of Psychology and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan. He received a B.S. in Zoology and Conservation Biology from the University of Wisconsin in 1993, followed by his Ph.D. in Evolutionary and Population Biology from Washington University in 2000. For his dissertation, he studied behavior and reproductive success in hybrid baboons in Ethiopia. He was then a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania from 2001-2005 studying social behavior and cognition in baboons in Botswana. Since 2005, he has been studying behavior, communication, and cognition in geladas in Ethiopia as the co-director of the University of Michigan Gelada Research Project. In his spare time, Thore likes to…well, um, with two young children at home, he has no spare time.||Jacinta Beehner is an Associate professor in the Departments of Psychology and Anthropology at the University of Michigan. She received her B.S. in Biology from Boston College in 1994, followed by an M.A. (1998) and a Ph.D. (2003) in Biological Anthropology from Washington University. For her dissertation, she studied the reproductive behavior and success of hybrid female baboons in Ethiopia. She then was a Research Associate with Drs. Robert Seyfarth and Dorothy Cheney at the University of Pennsylvania studying the hormones and behavior of chacma baboons in Botswana. Next, she moved on to a postdoc position with Dr. Jeanne Altmann at Princeton University working on the reproductive endocrinology of female yellow baboons. Since 2005, she has been studying sexual selection, reproductive strategies, and social behavior in geladas living in the Simien Mountains National Park of Ethiopia. She co-directs (with Thore Bergman) the University of Michigan Gelada Research Project. She also is the director of the Core Assay Facility in the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan. In her spare time, Jacinta likes to dream up ways of getting her two children into the field.|
Current Lab Members
Amy Lu is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at Stony Brook University. She finished her Ph.D. at Stony Brook University (advised by Carola Borries), where her research focused on female reproduction and mating strategies of Phayre’s leaf monkeys (Trachypithecus crepusculus phayrei) at Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary in Thailand. Following her Ph.D., she was a postdoc in the Beehner lab and at the University of Illinois. Amy is broadly interested in behavioral endocrinology, reproductive physiology, sexual selection, and development of non-human primates. Currently, Amy is examining developmental trajectories in female juvenile geladas, considering the role of male takeovers and maternal rank on growth, stress, and reproductive maturation. In her spare time she enjoys walking with her dog and playing board games with friends. You can view Amy’s CV with the following link: Lu CV copy.pdf.
Noah Snyder-Mackler received his Ph.D. in Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania where he was co-advised by Drs. Robert Seyfarth and Dorothy Cheney. Broadly, his research focuses on how variation in genotype and behavior affect fitness. In geladas, he used non-invasive genetic sampling techniques in combination with detailed behavioral sampling to study the effects of relatedness on social behaviors, such as groooming, cooperation, and association. His research has provided important new data on kinship-behavior interactions and the evolution of complex societies in mammals. Noah is now a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Jenny Tung at Duke University where he studies how individual variation in behavior and genotype mitigate the detrimental effects of chronic social stress. You can find a link to his website here.
Marcela Benitez is a joint PhD candidate in Biological Anthropology and Biopsychology studying sexual-selection and social cognition in gelada monkeys in the highlands of Ethiopia. She graduated from Yale University (2007) where she worked on hormonal correlates of cognitive tasks in captive capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) with Dr. Laurie Santos. Prior to attending the University of Michigan, Marcela spent a year conducted field work on owl monkey behavior (Aotus azari) in northern Argentina under the supervision of Dr. Eduardo Fernandez- Duque. Marcela's current dissertation research focuses on one putative sexually-selected signal for male geladas – the “loud call” vocalization used in male displays to determine if males assess the competitive abilities of rivals based on the frequency, duration, or acoustic properties of these calls. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the Leakey Foundation. In her spare time, she plays, coaches, watches, and dreams about soccer. For more information check out her website here.
Caitlin Barale is a doctoral candidate at Princeton University, where she is advised by Dr. Jeanne Altmann and Dr. Dan Rubenstein. She is very happy to be a part of the UMGRP, despite being located in New Jersey much of the time! Her research focuses on the development of male-male relationships in juvenile geladas. She loves living in the Ethiopian Highlands, where she spends her free time photographing sunsets, making polenta and dreaming about being a baby gelada. You can read more on Caitlin’s personal website here.
Elizabeth Tinsley Johnson is a PhD candidate in Biological Anthropology studying female behavioral endocrinology and the evolution of social behavior. She graduated from Carleton College in 2007 with a B.A. in Psychology. Her previous research experience includes studying social cognition in captive cotton-top tamarins and working for the Lomas Barbudal Capuchin Monkey Project in Costa Rica, under the direction of Dr. Susan Perry (UCLA). Elizabeth’s current thesis research (expected defense: Sept. 2017) focuses on how and why female geladas invest in social relationships and how this investment affects fitness. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the Leakey Foundation. For more information check out her website HERE.
Julie Jarvey is a Conservation Ecology master’s student at the University of Michigan, and a former camp manager of the UMGRP field site (2011-2012). She graduated from Michigan Tech University in 2011 with a B.S. in Wildlife Ecology & Management. Her current research focuses on how ecological factors influence female social relationships. She is also investigating how food availability and land use practices effect gelada movement patterns and habitat use. Before working with the UMGRP, she studied belowground ecology in Northern Hardwood forests and worked as a research assistant on the Michigan Predator-Prey project in Escanaba. In her free time, Julie enjoys inventing dance moves and playing the banjo.
Sharmi is a pre-doctoral candidate in Biological Anthropology at the University of Michigan, advised by Dr. Jacinta Beehner. She graduated from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Mohali in 2015 and has a Dual BS-MS degree with a major in Biological Sciences. Her primary academic interests lie in understanding how sexual selection drives the evolution of multiple reproductive strategies in non-human primates. Before joining the Graduate program at Michigan, she had worked on several short projects throughout her undergraduate program - from lab based experiments on fruit flies to macro-ecological modeling on sloth bears to purely behavioral studies on communication in Bonnet Macaques (Macaca radiata). In between juggling with PhD courses and lab work right now, Sharmi likes bird-watching, painting, and travelling.
Sofia Carrera is a PhD student in the Biopsychology area of the UM Psychology Department, advised by Jacinta Beehner. She majored in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale (2015) where she investigated the daily variation of fecal testosterone in owl monkeys with Dr. Eduardo Fernandez-Duque and Dr. Richard Bribiescas. Before coming to Michigan, she spent several months studying owl monkey behavior both in captivity at MD Anderson and in the wild in northern Argentina. Her primary research interest concerns the effects of maternal care and stress on offspring development. Besides following monkeys around, she enjoys playing soccer, hiking, and baking.
Teera Losch is currently the lab manager for the Core Assay Facility (CAF), where a majority of the UMGRP hormone assays take place. She also organizes the data and fecal samples that arrive from the field for the project. Teera received her Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from the University of Illinois (2009). She then earned her Master’s degree from Missouri State University in Natural and Applied Science (2010) where she studied elephant endocrinology. In her spare time she enjoys cooking, playing with her dogs and making pottery.
Esheti Jejaw is the most senior of our Ethiopian Research Assistants. He has worked with the UMGRP since 2008. His family is based in Michiby (a village in the park) but he commutes between Debark (where he has a house with his wife, Salam) and Sankaber (where he lives during the working week). We like to think of him as our "bachelor expert" but Esheti also is well-versed on all the behaviors of the units as well - with a particular focus on our "small band". The animals in small band are seen nearly every day of the year and probably comprise the descendants of the animals that Robin Dunbar studied in the 1970s!
Ambaye Fanta has worked with the UMGRP since 2010. He is our expert on our "mid-band" - half of our unit animals that like to disappear for about half of every year. Ambaye’s uncanny ability to identify individual geladas in the fog, off cliff edges and behind bushes has proved invaluable. In his free time, he enjoys learning about African wildlife, laughing at silly ferengi behavior, and decorating the Sankaber bachelor pad he shares with Esheti and Setey.
Setey Girmay has worked with the UMGRP since 2011. He is our jack-of-all-trades guy and does everything from census, to focal sampling, to sample collection. Impressively, Setey knows more animals than any of us - and can recognize even infants at a glance. We also have designated Setey as our project "social planner" and he is in charge of planning any parties at Sankaber.
Shifarew Asrat (Shif) was born in Addis Ababa, but now lives in Debark--a small town at the foothills of the Simien Mountains. He helps to manage logistics for the UMGRP and also owns his own company, Simien Trekking. Shif regularly travels in and outside Ethiopia.
Tariku Waregay (Tarik) has worked with the UMGRP since 2011 (and he has worked with Thore and Jacinta on different projects dating back to 1995!). He is based in Addis Ababa where he runs his tourism business company - Yama Tours (www.yamatoursethiopia.com). He helps the project stuff with all logistics, airport pickup and hotel arrangements, running around Addis Ababa for residence permits and drivers licenses. His tour company is - hands down - one of the best tour companys in all of Ethiopia (family members and professional colleagues of our project routinely use his company for their holiday and professional trips around Ethiopia).
Megan Gomery dedicated two and half years to fulfilling several positions at the UMGRP field site in Ethiopia. After graduating with a B.S. degree in Evolutionary Anthropology from the University of Michigan in 2012, she worked as a field assistant for the male “loud call” project for nearly a year. She then assumed the role of camp manager from early 2014 until mid 2015. While in the field, Megan took a large interest in assisting with conservation efforts in the Simien Mountains National Park. She contributed by helping educate local tourism industry workers about sustainable practices and improving park campsites by arranging trash pick- ups and installing animal-proof garbage cans. Currently, Megan is collaborating with UMGRP graduate students, Julie Jarvey and India Schneider-Crease, to continue conservation efforts in the Simiens. Some of Megan’s greatest pleasures in life include spending long weekends at her family’s cabin in northern Michigan, summer barbeques, lounging with her dogs, and pushing the limits with her off-roading Jeep.
Lucy Ho’s primary interests are in the evolution of complex cognition, how the social and ecological environments act as selective pressures on animal cognitive abilities. Currently she is focusing on how hybridization affects social behavior in howler monkeys (Alouatta pigra x Alouatta palliata). Prior to Michigan she also studied how the demands of brood parasitism affected the cognitive abilities of female brown-headed cowbirds (Molothrus ater). In her spare time, Lucy reads novels, writes fiction, and drinks too much tea.
Shayna Liberman recently graduated from University of Michigan (2009) where she studied Biopsychology and Zoology. She completed an honors thesis exploring the steroid hormone testosterone and its association with behavior across life-history stages in wild, adult male chacma baboons (Papio ursinus). Currently, she is working with Dr. Dana Dolinoy to gain a better understanding about epigenetic mechanisms and how they may be able to inform the field of sociobiology. On the occasion that she can tear herself away from playing with monkey poop and reading Dawkins, she enjoys exploring the outdoors (hiking, wakeboarding, rafting etc.), photography, traveling and cooking.
David Pappano is an NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Biology at Princeton University. He completed his dissertation research on the reproductive trajectories of bachelor geladas at the University of Michigan (Ph.D. Biological Anthropology 2013). His postdoctoral research applies network analyses to movement and association patterns of geladas. Through these methods, he explores how local rules and social relationships interact to produce emergent behavior such as group fission-fusions and collective movement of gelada herds. You can read more on his personal website here.
Eila Roberts recently defended her dissertation thesis in Biopsychology on female counterstrategies to infanticide in geladas. She obtained her Bachelor's degree in Biopyschology at the University of Michigan (2004). Then continued on to earn her Master's degree from Michigan's School of Natural Resources and Environment (2007) where she used sheep (Ovis aries) as a model for androgenic endocrine disrupters on reproductive behavior. In addition to studying female counterstrategies to infanticide, Eila's dissertation research focuses on female reproductive parameters in terms of hormones and behavior. In her spare time, Eila enjoys warding off fleas and other biting insects with copious amounts of bug spray, itching bug bites, and complaining about how many bugs there are in the Simien Mountains. She also enjoys reading, hiking, and playing with her dog.
Aliza le Roux
Aliza le Roux was a postdoc in our lab (and remains affiliated with the project), working primarily on social cognition and communication. She spent 2 years at the field site in Ethiopia, where she collected behavioral, vocal, and hormonal data and conducted playback experiments. Her recent analyses focus on the social knowledge of bachelor geladas, the influence of habitat on vocal degradation, and how social complexity may have influenced male geladas’ vocal repertoires. Before studying geladas, she worked on yellow mongooses (Cynicitis penicillata, the foxiest of all mongooses) and the whistle of the whistling rat (Parotomys brantsi). You can access her personal website here
Clay Wilton was the 2009-2010 camp manager for the UMGRP fieldsite. He graduated from Central Michigan University (2008) and is currently attending Mississippi State University where he is studying black bear population dynamics and habitat selection for his Master's degree. Prior to working with geladas, Clay studied freshwater ecology in Tanzania’s Gombe Streams National Park, wolves in Canada, and predator-prey interactions in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. In his free time, Clay enjoys wildlife photography, fly fishing, rock climbing, and walking his dog.