Animal Behavior Laboratory

Postdoctoral Scholars & Graduate Students

Jessica Vandeleest, PhD

Postdoctoral Scholar, Social Networks and Health

Jessica's research focuses on infant development; in particular she is interested in using a multilevel approach to understand the how characteristics of social groups (e.g. social network structure) and specific social relationships (e.g. mother-infant relationship) interact with infant characteristics (e.g. temperament) to influence risk for negative health and behavioral outcomes.

Jian Jin, PhD

Postdoctoral Scholar, Social Networks and Health

Jian's research focuses on how social environment affects personality development and the evolution of personality. Specifically, she is interested in how personality interacts with social network positions to affect health and reproductive outcomes in rhesus macaques.

Allison Heagerty

Doctoral Candidate, Animal Behavior 

Allison studies issues relating to rhesus social group stability using social network analysis. Specifically, she is researching how individual personality and alpha female behavior correlate with group structure and individuals' positions in their social network.

Nicole Sharpe

Doctoral Candidate, Animal Behavior 

Nicole is a student in the Animal Behavior Graduate Group interested in primate social behavior and conservation, social network analysis, personality and temperament, and welfare.  Her dissertation investigates how individual personalities contribute to group dynamics and stability in captive chimpanzees.  She is working with groups of chimpanzees at two African sanctuaries, Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Kenya and Chimfunshi Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Zambia.

Hanie Elfenbien, MS

Doctoral Candidate, Animal Behavior and School of Veterinary Medicine

Hanie's interests are at the intersection of Veterinary Medicine and Behavioral Management. She hopes to address welfare concerns in captive animals by combining the expertise of these two fields. As a graduate student in the Animal Behavior Graduate Group she is studying the epidemiology of non-pathogenic diarrhea, a syndrome with both physiological and behavioral risk factors.

Shannon Seil, MS

Graduate Student, Animal Behavior

Shannon Seil is a PhD student interested in the development and evaluation of population management strategies for captive and wild rhesus macaques. Her current research focuses on evaluating factors that predict contra-hierarchical aggression among females through analyzing patterns of dyadic interaction.

Natalia Duque, DVM

Graduate Student, Animal Behavior

Natalia is interested in sleep dynamics and function, specifically its role in emotion and cognitive processes, its evolutionary significance, and how knowledge in the field can be applied to improve animal welfare in captivity.

Melissa Partyka, MS

Graduate student, Ecology

Melissa is a doctoral student in the Graduate Group in Ecology with a BS in marine biology and an MS in coastal ecology.  She is interested in the spatial dynamics and networks of waterborne pathogens and their transmission through marine benthic communities to humans via recreational activities. She is co-advised by Dr. Rob Atwill.

Tamar Boussina

Masters Student, Anthropology

Tamar is interested in the relationship between primate social networks and health, specifically how primate social relationships affect overall individual health, and the evolutionary significance of forming tight-knit social bonds

Alexander Whitaker

Masters Student, Animal Biology

Alex is interested in studying group behaviors in animals using social network analysis.