Human Evolutionary Sciences (HES)

William Aguado

William Aguado 0bb8ePhD Student
Advisor: Erin Vogel 
Program: Human Evolutionary Sciences (HES)
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I am interested in how the need to find and acquire food has influenced primate evolution and in particular how primates interact with their plant food resources. I received my BA in anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2013. At UCSC I aided in research on comparative primate anatomy by dissecting monkeys and apes and also discovered a love for fieldwork while researching the feeding ecology of howling monkeys on Ometepe Island in Nicaragua. After graduating I did research on vervet monkey foraging behavior and spatial cognition in Uganda before returning to UCSC for a few years to teach human anatomy labs. I received my MA at Iowa State University and focused my thesis on seed dispersal by savanna-dwelling chimpanzees at Fongoli, Senegal. Outside of my academic life I am an avid skateboarder that also enjoys climbing and photography.

Rebecca DeCamp

becca de campPhD Student
Advisor: Christina Bergey
Program: Human Evolutionary Sciences (HES)
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Research interests: Lemur evolution and adaptive radiation, evolutionary genetics, population genetics, ecological impacts on evolution

I am interested in understanding how ecological variables shaped the genetic evolution of lemurs after they arrived on Madagascar. I earned my B.A. in Anthropology from Boston University in 2020. My undergraduate research used phylogenetic methods to understand the evolution of the vomeronasal system (the chemosensory system that detects pheromones) in primates. Through this research, I became interested in lemurs specifically, and how their olfactory systems evolved differently from the rest of the primate clade. For my PhD research I want to further investigate the genetic evolution of these unique primates in order to better understand how they adapted to fill a variety of niches they encountered on Madagascar. I also hope to contribute to the conservation of lemurs through my research because they are the most endangered group of mammals on Earth. 

Fred Foster

Fred FosterPhD Student
Advisor: Robert Scott
Program: Human Evolutionary Sciences (HES)
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Research Interests: Dietary adaptation and sympatry in hominin and primate evolution, tooth enamel microstructure and function.

The goal of my research is to infer the unobservable diets of fossil species by revealing the form-function relationships that exist in the observable diets of living primates and their enamel microstructure. I use indentation methods from material science engineering to describe the mechanical behavior of tooth enamel in living primates and imaging methods (SEM, AFM, HIM) to visualize structural adaptations in tooth enamel at the smallest scales. These methods help me to test ideas about how the structure of teeth and their properties reflect diet and adaptation. My research is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the Center for Human Evolutionary Studies at Rutgers.

I received my Bachelor of Engineering from the University of Victoria in 2006 and my Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology from Simon Fraser University in 2010. I completed my Master of Science at the University College of London in 2012, where I investigated raw material transport and ranging behavior in Homo erectus, at Olduvai Gorge. My practical training includes a focus on fieldwork in palaeontological, archaeological, and forensic contexts with field seasons in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and the Pacific Northwest Coast of Canada.

Rupesh Gawde

Rupesh Gawde headshotPhD student
Advisor: Gloria Dominguez Bello/Erin Vogel
Program: Human Evolutionary Sciences (HES)
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Research Interests: Primates, Behavioural ecology, Feeding ecology, Health, Nutrition, Metagenomics

The basic question I ask, how primates survive the way they do - requires an understanding of different aspects of, health and behavior ecology that is modulated by environment and diet. By, integrating observational and experimental techniques from evolutionary biology, nutrition, microbiology, and metagenomics, I hope to pursue a richer understanding of primate behavior. The fascinating differentiation of dietary flexibility and behavioral plasticity in urban primates in comparison to forest-dwelling primates is of particular interest to me and will be my research focus. I received my Masters from the University of Pune, India. After this, I worked on a variety of different primate studies answering questions of feeding ecology, primate conservation, primate landscape ecology, human-primate co-existence. A kinesthetic learner, hoping for primate conservation by promoting coexistence.

Kyra Johnson

KyraJohnsonHESPhD Student
Advisor: Dan Cabanes
Program: Human Evolutionary Sciences (HES)
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Research Interests: microarchaeology and taphonomy; dietary and technological changes in archaeological record; effects of heat on bone

I received a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in May of 2019. My undergraduate research focused on understanding how the surface of bone is altered by fire and other taphonomic processes. This research led to a poster presentation at the 2019 Society for American Archaeology meeting. That poster explored how the quantification of surface roughness may aid in the identification of burnt and weathered bone in the archaeological record.  My senior thesis expanded on this research by investigating how the surface roughness of White Tailed Deer ribs were affected by repeated heating events. At Rutgers, I would like to expand on this research, as well as look at other macro- and micro-scale effects of heat on bone. My broader research interests include using a combination of microarchaeology and taphonomy to understand how we can track major dietary and technological changes in the archaeological record. In my free time, I enjoy exploring museums, reading, and finding the best slice of cake in the world.

Charles Maingi Kivasu

Charles Mangai KivasuPhD Student
Advisor: Ryne Palombit
Program: Human Evolutionary Sciences (HES)
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Research Interests: primate behavior ecology, conservation, social behaviors, and their interactions with humans

I hold a BSc degree in Environmental Conservation and Natural Resource Management and a MSc degree in Biology of Conservation from the University of Nairobi. My research focused on the implications of forest fragmentation and human activities on plant foods and behavior of the Tana River Mangabey. Previous research has been aimed at monitoring the feeding behavior and habitat loss of the Tana River mangabey and the Tana River Red colobus. Also, I have been engaged in assessing the utilization of forest products by the local community and their impact on the highly endangered Tana River mangabey. In the future, I aim to contribute to the conservation of primates by understanding their interactions with the human in their habitat as well as inform local communities.

Eva Mann

Eva MannPhD Student
Advisor: Erin Vogel
Program: Human Evolutionary Sciences (HES)
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Research Interests: primates, diet plasticity, stable isotope analysis (SIA), anthropogenic/climate-induced habitat change

I am interested in how primates dietarily adapt to climate and anthropogenic-induced habitat loss using stable isotope analysis.
I received my B.A. in Anthropology and Geological Sciences at the University of Miami in 2017. My undergraduate thesis Geochemical analysis of Tequesta calcretes (Mann et al 2019) focused on the isotopic geoarchaeology of a settlement in Downtown Miami, previously occupied by the Tequesta population (pre/proto-historic indigenous group of South Florida), to better understand the paleoenvironment of the site before and after Spanish arrival. I received my M.A. in Anthropology/Human Skeletal Biology in New York University in 2020 and focused my thesis on the isotopic diet of the Cayo Santiago, Puerto Rico rhesus macaques before and after Hurricane Maria’s deforestation of the island. As a doctoral student in Anthropology at Rutgers, I am interested in a holistic approach using multiple stable isotope techniques to answer questions on the nutritional consequences and fallback behaviors of the Bornean Orangutans influenced by the habitat-loss and fires in the peatlands of Borneo. As an underrepresented minority in the sciences, I am passionate about promoting and advocating for diversity and inclusion, in all the spaces around me. I aim to continue to do this through mentorship for underrepresented minorities, activism, and public/community outreach.

www.evammann.com

Denise Mercado

DeniseMercadoPhD Student
Advisor: Lee Cronk
Program: Human Evolutionary Sciences (HES)
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Research interests: human behavioral sciences, religion, cooperation theory, game theory, moral philosophy, cultural evolution

My dissertation fieldwork in Ifugao, Philippines looks broadly at how religious affiliation affects cooperative behavior, specifically with whom we cooperate and to what extent we do so. Rooted in cooperation theory, cultural evolution, and cognitive science, my work considers religious affiliation as a feature of our coalitional psychology and addresses the understudied property of flexibility in those coalitional affiliations. I received my B.A. in anthropology from Penn State and have previously participated in archaeology field schools in Luxor Valley, Egypt and Bicol, Philippines. Prior to joining Rutgers HES, I worked in the private sector in wealth management at Morgan Stanley.

Alysse Moldawer

AlysseWebsiteThumbPhD Student
Advisor: Erin Vogel
Program: Human Evolutionary Sciences (HES)
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Research Interests: orangutan behavior and ecology, political ecology, environmental anthropology, primate physiology
I am interested in an interdisciplinary approach to understanding home range quality and stress of wild, female, Bornean orangutans in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. My current research goals are to examine how wild female orangutans respond and adapt to inter-related factors of interest that include: forest and nutrient ecology, orangutan density, presence of anthropogenic effects, and the sociology and history of human land use within the proposed research site. I am also exploring field and laboratory methods for examining orangutan physiology.

Alexander Pritchard

PritchardPhotoPhD Student
Advisor: Ryne Palombit
Program: Human Evolutionary Sciences (HES)
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I am using experimental measures to quantify inter-individual variation in the stress response, as understood via thumbnail Heatmapthe coping style and stress reactivity frameworks. I completed a 17 month field project on olive baboons in Laikipia, Kenya. In addition to conducting experiments, staff and I recorded behavioral data using focal animal follows, collected fecal samples for Glucocorticoid assays, and took daily GPS tracks. Finally, I conducted personality surveys of the monkeys and gathered genetic samples for subsequent work. My work is significant for understanding the social and evolutionary implications of individual differences, specifically in the relatively conserved stress response. Gaining insight into such variation in our closest ancestors provides an important baseline for elucidating shared elements of our own biology, divorced from the socio-cultural complexities intrinsic to our own species. You can follow me on Twitter @SwmngInAFshbwl.

My work is proudly funded with support from the: Center for Human Evolutionary Studies, Anthropology Department of Rutgers, National Science Foundation, Wenner-Gren Foundation, Sigma Xi, American Society of Primatologists, and American Society of Mammalogists. I aim to follow my current work by building on my dissertation experiences and developing additional experimental methodologies to parse out individual variation as well as social effects, preferably while retaining laboratory components.

Dominique Raboin

Dominique Raboin 1eb3aPhD Student 
Advisor:Ryne Palombit
Program: Human Evolutionary Sciences (HES)
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Dominique Raboin holds a B.A. in biological anthropology and ecology from New York University and a M.A. from Hunter College at the City University of New York in animal behavior and conservation. She is broadly interested in primate behavioral ecology, including the costs and benefits of sociality from an evolutionary perspective. As an undergrad, Dominique studied feeding ecology in urban wildlife. Her master’s research investigated primate infant care and feeding ecology, specifically the feeding benefits of allomaternal care in guereza monkeys in Kibale National Park, Uganda. In addition to field research, Dominique gained experience in a primate molecular ecology lab, genotyping ringtail lemur samples to map their genetic diversity in Madagascar.

Her current research interests include kin and non-kin associations and social development among primates. For her dissertation, Dominique hopes to explore the roles of social learning during the juvenile period and juvenile-conspecific associations in long-term survivability of olive baboons in Laikipia, Kenya. Dominique hopes to contribute to primate conservation through her research and engagement in conservation education.

Andrew Schwartz

AndrewSchwartzPhD Student
Advisor: Robert Scott
Program: Human Evolutionary Sciences (HES)
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I received my B.A. in Anthropology from Vanderbilt University in 2018. Much of my undergraduate research involved the dental microwear texture analysis of archaeological remains from the Wari Empire as well as modern capuchin monkeys from Costa Rica. Previously, I excavated early primate remains from the Bighorn Basin and early hominin remains from Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. In the summer of 2019, I served as an intern for the Wyoming Dinosaur Center excavating dinosaur remains from the Morrison formation. As a doctoral candidate in Anthropology, I intend to focus my research on DMTA of non-human fossil primates to better understand primate dietary change in relation to climate change. Outside of academia, I am a diehard Mets, Jets and Islanders fan.

Research interests: DMTA of non-human fossil primates

Anissa Speakman

speakmanphotoPhD Student
Advisor: Robert Scott
Program: Human Evolutionary Sciences (HES)
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I received a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology, and a Bachelor of Science in Entomology and Wildlife Ecology from the University of Delaware in 2017. During my time at the University of Delaware, I wrote a senior thesis on sex differences in the dental health of the prehistoric Tepe Hissar assemblage. I also worked in the Bee Behavior and Ecology Lab, studying the foraging behavior of honey bees, and helping to develop new pest management practices for beekeepers. My project focuses on human dietary adaptations during environmental shifts in the Pliocene and Plistocene, specifically looking at the development of microwear on enamel. I am interested in all questions related to the evolution of the hominin diet. I am also an avid science and environmental activist, participating in various demonstrations and activities during my time at the University of Delaware.

Xijun (Luna) Wang

XijunWangMasters Student
Advisor: Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello
Program: Human Evolutionary Sciences (HES)
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I hold a B.A. degree in anthropology from Stony Brook University. My research interests are in Forensic Biology and Osteology. Prior to joining the Rutgers Master Program in Anthropology, I engaged in several research projects about the influences of different genotype mutations on the volume and density in endochondral and intramembranous bones in mice. Specifically, one of my studies involved the B3glct gene mutant mice as compared to a non-mutant control group, exploring potential factors that contribute to various disease states. I also joined the Percival Lab and developed sophisticated skills in identifying individual osteological compartments from a sample model established by 3D micro CT scans. As a prospective Master student at Rutgers University, I am looking forward to developing my interests and conducting more research in the field of Osteology and Forensic Biology.

Research interests: Forensic Biology and Osteology

Emma Willhardt

EmmaWillhardtMasters Student
Advisor: Susan Cachel
Program: Human Evolutionary Sciences (HES)
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I received a B.A. in Anthropology and Biology from Grinnell College in 2019. During my time at Grinnell I received a holistic education in both disciplines but focused on their intersection. My main anthropological research at Grinnell looked at the way dominance hierarchies can be perceived in human social groups through dyadic interactions. I also spent a good deal of time working in one of the cell biology laboratories genetically transforming frog embryos and assessing subsequent changes in mitotic spindle formation. I am interested in tracking large-scale migrations through pathogenic evidence and have been looking into the Yamnaya people who originated in Ukraine approximately 5,000 years ago as a potential focus-group for my research.