Photo by: Purwo Kuncoro

Introducing Our Fall 2020 Research Grant Recipients

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The Leakey Foundation held its fall 2020 granting session on December 5, 2020. Our board of trustees unanimously approved 31 research grant proposals for funding.

Here are some numbers from our fall 2020 granting cycle:

There were 101 applications for research grants.

Of the grants that were in purview, 42% were behavioral applications. 58% were paleoanthropology applications.

Congratulations to the fall 2020 Leakey Foundation grantees. We look forward to sharing news and information about them and their research!

Behavioral Research

Dr. Katherine Amato collecting data from black howler monkeys (A. pigra) at Palenque National Park, Mexico. Photo credit: Brianna Wilkinson.

Katherine Amato, Northwestern University: The effect of plant antimicrobial properties on primate food choice

After a long day of sample collection, PhD candidate Jordan Anderson enjoys a sunset view featuring Mount Kilimanjaro near Amboseli National Park, Kenya. Photo by Jenny Tung

Jordan Anderson, Duke University: Evolutionary genetics of the immune response in wild baboons

Megan Cole observing chimpanzees in Kibale National Park, Uganda. Photo: Stephanie Fox

Megan Cole,University of New Mexico: Are there multiple paths to social influence in wild chimpanzees?

Dr. Ghislain Ebang (right) with tracker Roye (left) after tracking chimpanzees in Moukalaba-Doudou National Park, Gabon.

Ghislain Wilfried Ebang Ella, Institut de Recherche en Ecologie Tropicale: A systematic exploration of tool-use in Moukalaba-Doudou chimpanzees, Gabon

Dr. Irene Esteban Collecting modern soil and plant samples from Fynbos vegetation habitats on the south coast of South Africa. Photo: Ross Turner

Irene Esteban, University of the Witwatersrand: Firewood investigation of plant-remains: Coupling ethnography with experimental archaeology to disentangle aspects of South African prehistory

Katarina Evans at the Emmen Zoo in the Netherlands. For her dissertation project, she is collecting behavioral and morphological data from zoo baboons and wild baboons. Photo credit: Job Stumpel (veterinarian/curator at Emmen Zoo)

Katarina Evans, CUNY Graduate Center: Evolution of the coercive pair bond in hamadryas baboons

Amanda Fuchs in Zambia with scouts, Marley Katinta (left) and Kennedy Kaheha (right). This photo was taken on her last day in the field in 2019. Photo by Noah Callahan.

Amanda Fuchs, University of Massachusetts, Amherst: The effects of food and water on kinda baboon movement ecology and gut microbiome diversity

Dr. Ingrid Holzmann recording free living black-and-gold howler monkeys (Alouatta caraya) in the humid Chaco ecoregion, in Argentina. The photo has been taken by Juan Ignacio Areta

Ingrid Holzmann, Instituto de Bio y Geociencias del NOA: Are black-and-gold howler monkeys “dear enemies”?

Postdoctoral researcher Dr. Erin Kane and undergraduate researcher Uci Agustina pause for a photo while searching for orangutans in Gungung Palung National Park, West Kalimantan, Indonesia in February 2018.

Erin Kane, Boston University: Extended lactation in an unpredictable environment: Bornean orangutans’ double burden

Dr. Justin Ledogar at the Brownsberg field site in Suriname where he was conducting fieldwork on the feeding ecology of pitheciine monkeys.

Justin Ledogar, Duke University: Food mechanical properties and feeding biomechanics in sympatric pitheciines from Brownsberg Nature Park, Suriname

Missy Painter with white-faced capuchins at Taboga Forest Reserve in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Photo credit: Elizabeth Tinsley Johnson

Melissa Painter, University of Michigan: Extra-group social knowledge in captive and wild capuchins

This picture was taken in 2014 when Sebastián Ramírez Amaya was following a group of wild spider monkeys in the Yasuní Biosphere Reserve, Ecuador. He spent 25 months in the forest following spider monkeys in Colombia and Ecuador before heading to Tanzania and Uganda to explore the social behavior of chimpanzees. Photo credit: Nausica de Gibert Bonet

Sebastián Ramírez Amaya, Arizona State University: Male-female social relationships in chimpanzees and the evolution of pair-bonding in humans

Amanda Rowe in Kenya for the International Primatological Society Congress in 2018. Photo credit: Mariah E. Donohue

Amanda Rowe, Stony Brook University: Arthropod consumption and its role in coexistence of Malagasy lemurs

Dr. Aaron Sandel watches adult male chimpanzee, Evans, at Ngogo in Kibale National Park, Uganda (Photo by Aleksey Maro).

Aaron Sandel, University of Texas at Austin: The evolution of the adolescent growth spurt: Bone turnover in wild chimpanzees


Dr. Stephen Chester (Principle Investigator; right) with Dr. William Clemens (Co-Investigator; left) at the Garbani Channel fauna localities in northeastern Montana that have yielded hundreds of fossils of Purgatorius. Co-Investigator Gregory Wilson Mantilla not pictured. Photo credit: Eric Sargis.

Stephen Chester, Brooklyn College, City University of New York: Quantifying the taxonomic and dietary diversification of the first primates

Dr. Amy Clark uses a total station to record the spatial coordinates of artifacts during a test excavation of Jorf el Hamam, a rockshelter in Morocco where she found artifacts characteristic of the Middle and Late Stone Age. The Leakey Foundation will fund continued excavations at this site during the summer of 2021 (pandemic permitting). Photo: Fatima-Zohra Rafi

Amy Clark, Harvard University: The contribution of Northwest Africa to the cultural origins of modern humans: Archaeological excavations at Jorf el Hamam, southwest Morocco

Dr. Jennifer Frost gowing trophoblast stem cells in the tissue culture suite at The Blizard Institute, Queen Mary University of London

Jennifer Frost, Queen Mary University of London: The role of endogenous retroviruses in the development of the primate placenta

Giulia Gallo assisting with the excavation of the Paleolithic cave site called Bukovac in Serbia. At the time of the photo, the team was expanding the main trench to expose a greater surface area of the Paleolithic deposits. Photo Credit: Ljubica Stajic.

Giulia Gallo, University of California at Davis: Neanderthal fire technology: A zooarchaeological perspective

Dr. Richard Kay, recipient of the 2020 Gordon P. Getty Grant. This award honors recipients whose multidisciplinary research significantly advances science related to human origins, evolution, behavior, and survival.

Richard Kay, Duke University: Hominin dental topography in 4D: A novel assessment of diet

Dr. Job Kibii excavating a fossil in Baringo, Kenya

Job Kibii, National Museums of Kenya: Exploration, excavation and dating of hominin-bearing limestone caves, Kenya

Klara Komza at the University of Toronto palaeoanthropology lab. Photo credit: John Guatto

Klara Komza, University of Toronto: Evolutionary processes shaping hominin midfoot diversification

Li Li setting up a total station for data recording at the Middle Paleolithic site of Pech de l’Azé IV in southern France.

Li Li, University of Tübingen: An experimental approach to reconstruct the “invisible” knapping variables from the Oldowan record

Dr. Tesla Monson at the National Museum of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa. Dr. Marianne Brasil (left) and Dr. Leslea Hlusko (right) are pictured in the background. Together, they are part of a team led by the Human Evolution Research Center in Berkeley, CA, that is describing a large assemblage of new monkey fossils from the Afar region of Ethiopia.

Tesla Monson, Western Washington University: Evolution of the primate cranium: Craniofacial modularity in extant colobines

James Munene observing exposures along the Malewa River in the Naivasha basin during a recent survey. Photo credit: John Munyiri

James Munene, University of Michigan: The ecological context of modern human evolution in Central Rift Valley, Kenya during the Late Quaternary

Samuel Muteti during fossil prospecting at Gumba red Beds at Rusinga Island. Photo credit: Lauren Michel

Samuel Muteti, University of Minnesota: The emergence of crown hominoids in the middle Miocene of western Kenya.

Dr. Elizabeth Niespolo in the Middle Awash region, Ethiopia. Here, she is in the field looking at fossils and surveying the geology. With her colleagues, she is developing a chronostratigraphic framework for Pleistocene paleoanthropological deposits using 40Ar/39Ar, 14C, and 230Th/U dating methods. Photo courtesy of Marianne Brasil.

Elizabeth Niespolo, California Institute of Technology: Development of novel 230Th/U burial dating of Australian megafaunal avian eggshells

Andrea Picin setting up a total station at Salumano village, Zambia.

Andrea Picin, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology: Investigating the Middle to Upper Paleolithic in Poland: New fieldworks at Mamutowa Cave and Kraków-Zwierzyniec

Dr. Samper Carro excavating a Pleistocene-Holocene site in Alor (Indonesia) in 2014.

Sofia Samper Carro, Australian National University: Investigating Neanderthal lifestyle during the MIS4 in the southeastern Pre-Pyrenees

Dr. Sileshi Semaw (right) with his Gona Research Project co-director Dr. Michael Rogers at Gona in the Afar Region of Ethiopia.

Sileshi Semaw, Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH): Continued investigation of the Middle Stone Age and Later Stone Age at Gona, Afar, Ethiopia: New sites <75 – 6 ka

Lucy Timbrell is a PhD student in the Archaeology of Human Origins Research Group at the University of Liverpool. Her research funded by the Leakey Foundation will involve measuring the shape of African Middle Stone Age projectile points to explore how populations of early Homo sapiens were structured through space, time, and environments

Lucy Timbrell, University of Liverpool: Movement, interaction and structure: modelling population networks and diversity in the African Middle Stone Age

Kayla Worthey, working at the Middle Stone Age archaeological site of Bizmoune Cave. Here she is collecting sediment samples for stable isotope analysis, which will help reconstruct the local paleoenvironment at a time when shell ornaments were first used at the site by Homo sapiens.

Kayla Worthey, University of Arizona: Environmental context of early ornament use during the Moroccan MSA

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