Assistant Professor of Psychology
I am a biological psychologist with interests in the evolution of behavior, culture, and behavioral economics. I earned an M.A. (2003) and Ph.D. (2007) in Neuroscience and Animal Behavior at Emory University, and a B.S. in Psychology at St. Lawrence University. At Beloit College I teach courses in Introductory Psychology, Research Methods, Physiological Psychology, Drugs and Behavior, and Animal Cognition. I infuse examples and activities involving animals in each of these courses.
My research centers on the behavior and cognition of non-human primates, primarily around topics of social learning. Over the past 15 years, I have worked in a variety of settings including a federally funded research facility, a public zoo, and in the wild. As a result, I am experienced with the costs and benefits surrounding the care and use of captive animals for research and educational purposes, with the need to conserve and protect the natural habitats in which these animals live, and the public perception and misconceptions about the primates I study. In addition, I have been a volunteer puppy raiser for a local guide dog organization, so I have experienced first-hand the transformative power that service animals can have, and the legal and logistical challenges of gaining access to public areas with a service dog.
When I first read the description of the seminar, I knew immediately that this is exactly the type initiative that I'd like to be involved with. My research interests in the behavior and cognition of non-human primates fall squarely within the scope of the seminar concept and goals "to explore how humans and animals interconnect and how understanding animals helps us better understand human nature". I hope that this seminar will provide me with the opportunity to develop a broader interdisciplinary curiosity and understanding of animals, while allowing me to share my expertise in research and teaching with other seminar participants.