Monday, July 28, 2014

It's Officially Conference Season: ISBE 2014

I'll be presenting my hamadryas baboon handedness poster this week at International Society of Behavioral Ecology (ISBE) conference in NYC. This a pilot study I did at The Prospect Park Zoo last year, prior to the birth of the two new male baboons. Don't forget to catch my poster on Saturday, August 2nd between 7 PM to 9:30 PM at NYU Kimmel Center (10th floor). I will be volunteering as well, so say hi when you see me giving you your conference packets. If you are attending #ISBE2014 and needed any NYC-related advice or tips, don't be shy to ask. Catch you on the flip side! 

ISBE 2014 Poster Abstract

Friday, July 18, 2014

Checking Out Duke Lemur Center

Duke Lemur Center. Durham, North Carolina
Hi all! I flew down to Durham, North Carolina earlier this week to check out Duke Lemur Center where I will be conducting experiments for my Masters thesis. But before I get to that, I just want everyone to know that I overslept and woke up an hour before my flight is supposed to depart.! Lucky for me, I live near the airport so I dashed out the door (I had packed the night before), grabbed a cab, and got to the airport in 20 minutes. That leaves me 10 minutes before the start pre-boarding and guess what? I made it! Achievement unlocked! North Carolina is definitely not like the Northeast (no shit, Raymond). The first day I got to Durham, I immediately noticed the "southern drawl". I felt like everyone's life is moving on a slow pace except mine, so when I talk to them I haaaaad tooooo taaaaaaaaaalk veeeeeryyyyyy slooooooow (New Yorkers are known to talk really really fast). I've only been to Durham and Chapel Hill for the duration I was there but I enjoyed it. Can't wait to go back and explore the area more when I am collecting data.

Prosimians of the world!
Oh, right. Duke Lemur Center. I got to see all the ruffed lemurs, both red ruffed and black-and-white ruffed, (Varecia variegata spp.) that I will be working with. They are precious, and cute, and adorbs. They somehow reminded me of cats (Yes, I'm a cat lady). I coordinated the trip to the lemur center with the Research Manager at Duke Lemur Center, Erin Ehmke, so that I can see the ruffed lemurs as well as their enclosures. This way, it would be easier for me to plan/imagine where the experimental apparatus will be set up. My research will be on foraging ecology, and I hope to be able to do my data collection in late Fall, if not the beginning of Winter.

Photo by David Haring, Duke Lemur Center.
I was lucky enough to be able to get inside the enclosures with the ruffed lemurs (I have to provide proof of negative TB result from a PPD test). Now I have photographic proof that I'm actually at Duke Lemur Center! Thanks to David Haring for taking pictures of me with the ruffed lemurs! Totes cool. You can check out Haring's portfolio here.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

My Life So Far ...

Hi readers! I'm sure most of you have been waiting for me to update my blog. Apologies for the long leave of absence. I have been busy with grad school, but as the Spring 2014 semester came to an end, I'm glad to report that I have finished taking all the course work I needed for my Animal Behavior and Conservation (ABC) MA. Right now the MA is in the horizon; I just need to finish my data collection, write up my thesis, and defend it before I graduate.

I am currently working with Dr. Andrea Baden at Hunter College for my MA thesis. It will be on ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata sp.) sensory and foraging ecology. I plan on going to Duke Lemur Center later this Summer or early Fall for data collection, so if there are any readers that goes to Duke University or live near Durham/Chapel Hill, feel free to contact me so we can meet up. You can also find out more about me on the About Me tab.

What I would be like if I am a ruffed lemur.

Since my previous post, MPIG 2013: Thank You Iowa State University!, I have been working on the poster I presented there. Thanks to all the feedback I've received, I re-analyzed my data and was able to present a more cohesive story and result. If I have to reiterate again, MPIG is a great conference to go to if you want to showcase your work and wanted feedback. I have also heard through the grapevines (or liana vines) that there is now a Northeast Primate Interest Group. Will update you on that when I find out more about it.

I recently gave a talk at the 2nd annual CUNY Animal Behavior Initiative (CABI) conference at The Bronx Zoo. It was my first time giving this talk, and although my talk was cut short to only 5 minutes, I felt like I was able to convey my story and research. I spoke about hamadryas baboon handedness and why it is important to me as an anthropologist and primatologist. It was a compelling story and everyone cried (no they didn't, it was a complete fabrication). They seem to have enjoyed the talk though based on their feedback.

Doing what I do best, convincing people that hamadryas baboons are interesting. Photo taken at the 2nd annual CABI conference.

It's conference season! As far as conferences go, I will be at the ISBE conference at Hunter College (New York, NY), ABS conference at Princeton University (Princeton, NJ) and ASP conference at Decatur, GA. My poster presentations have been accepted in the latter two conferences. I'm hoping that my poster for ISBE will be accepted as well! Again, if you are attending any of these conferences, please let me know so we can meet up and mingle!

I hope to have enough time to be able to update this blog again. I will try to post more about my current research. With the advent of Twitter, I have just been tweeting and retweeting exciting primate news. Until the next post ....

Sunday, October 20, 2013

MPIG 2013: Thank You Iowa State University!

Another great MPIG conference, this year in Iowa State University. Though this is only my second MPIG conference, I feel like this is one of the greatest regional conference to participate in. Great science and good people all around. It's one of the reason why a Northeasterner like me is in the midwest every year. Thanks for Jill Pruetz and Stacy Lindshield for such great hosts.

Also, thanks to those who stopped me and said hi during the conference. I love meeting my blog readers. You have no idea how happy you make me when you tell me you read my blog!

MPIG 2013 Pre Registration

Keynote Speaker Dr. Paul Garber, Distinguished Primatologist, on Primate Feeding Ecology

MPIG Reception

Dr. Julienne Rutherford presenting the first talk of the conference, "Ten Years of MPIG". Congrats for being 10 years old, MPIG!

Yours truly and his poster.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

MPIG 2013 Poster

Here's my poster for MPIG 2013.


Gestural communication is thought to be a precursor to the origin of human language. Since human language is lateralized between brain hemispheres, is there also a lateralization in gestural communication in nonhuman primates?

This preliminary study sought to elucidate whether the hamadryas baboon (Papio hamadryas) troop at the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn, New York exhibits hand preference in gestural communication. Two types of gestural communication were examined: hand slapping and muzzle wiping. An all occurrence sampling method was completed in 3 weeks with a total of 24 hours of observation and data collection. The Handedness Index (HI) for each individual (N=7) was calculated for both hand slapping and muzzle wiping.

This study revealed that most P. hamadryas individuals at the Prospect Park Zoo exhibit a right hand preference for hand slapping, but exhibit no hand preference for muzzle wiping. These results are consistent with previous studies on another baboon species, olive baboons (Papio anubis) (Vauclair et al., 2005; Meguerditchian & Vauclair, 2006; Meguerditchian & Vauclair, 2009). Results from this preliminary study can contribute to the study of nonhuman primate handedness, as well as the evolution of language.