I study the evolution and development of social ties and their physiological correlates. Importantly, I do this with a life stage perspective. I aim to investigate how the costs and benefits of social integration vary and how cumulative experiences take shape over an individual’s lifetime. To do this in wild primates, my research typically capitalizes on the rare opportunity (and challenge) to use long-term field studies to determine how individuals manage the costs and benefits of sociality over a long life course.
My doctoral training was in evolutionary primatology at Columbia University, where I worked with Marina Cords. In my dissertation on blue monkeys living in Kakamega Forest Kenya, I evaluated short-term correlates of ties during development, including energy balance and glucocorticoids, and the early-life development of sociality broadly. I evaluated biological markers in collaboration with several labs, including James Higham at New York University, Erin Vogel at Rutgers University, and Michael Heistermann at the German Primate Center. For my dissertation, I also examined the short and long-term links between ties and mortality in adult females.
In my postdoctoral research, I am expanding my research program by evaluating the consequences of social ties for immunological health. I am working with Melissa Emery Thompson in the CHmPP lab at University of New Mexico, capitalizing on a comprehensive, longitudinal data set on wild chimpanzees, living in Kibale National Forest, Uganda. This unique data set bridges the gap between short- and long-term outcomes of social status and integration.
My aim for the future is to more directly apply models from primates to construct comparative, evolutionary frameworks of the interactions between human social dynamics and health, particularly in historically marginalized communities.