Students Present Research at Professional Conference

Students Present Research at Professional ConferenceIn October, anthropology majors Emma Brzezinski and Nicole Schapker presented findings from their study “Gombe Termite Fishing Behavior: Using Noldus Observer Software to Examine Laterality” at the Midwestern Primate Interest Group meetings at Northwestern University.

"This was a great opportunity for students interested in research to see how anthropologists communicate and to make connections with other people in this field, especially in this casual, open context,” said Emma.

The project, supervised by Dr. Linda Marchant, looks at how Noldus Observer--software that allows viewers to code behavior--can help create more detailed descriptions of chimpanzee tool-using behavior, and in particular when and how the apes use their right or left hands.

Handedness, or laterality, is a longstanding interest of Dr. Marchant. “Understanding lateralized behavior in chimpanzees during tool use can help us discuss the origins of the strong handedness and lateralization in humans,” she said.

The students were supported by fellow members of the Miami Primatology Club, seven of whom attended the meetings. In addition to Brzezinski and Schapker, attendees included Gage Huey, Claire Vaughn, Deron Clark, Sarah Mariette and Shupei Tang.

The students were also mentored during their visit to the conference by visiting assistant professor Dr. Clara Scarry.

"It was really inspirational and exciting to meet and learn from other undergraduates who are interested in the same things I am,” said anthropology major Gage Huey.

The Midwest Primatological Interest Group was founded in 2004 to foster relationships among a large number of outstanding research institutions, biological anthropology and primatology programs located in the Midwestern US. It has grown into one of the leading organizations of primatologists, with an international membership list.