Photo by: Purwo Kuncoro

Introducing our fall 2021 grantees

We are pleased to announce the recipients of our fall 2021 Leakey Foundation Research Grants. 

These 39 scientists embody our mission of increasing scientific knowledge and public understanding of human evolution, behavior, and survival. 

Their diverse research projects span the globe and cover topics that range from primate ecology, cognition, and tool-use to morphology, genomics, and the excavation of newly discovered hominin fossil sites.

We look forward to sharing more about our grantees and their work as their projects progress.

2021 Grantee Project Locations

Fall 2021 Leakey Foundation Grant Recipients

Nalina Aiempichitkijkarn with a group of long-tailed macaques feeding on anthropogenic food in Khao Tamon Temple, Thailand.
Photo: Attapol Aiempichitkijkarn

Nalina Aiempichitkijkarn, University of California, Davis: Social network and tuberculosis transmission dynamics in long-tailed macaques

Hugues-Alexandre Blain in the Guadix-Baza Basin, Granada, Spain. The Guadix-Baza Basin is the place with the oldest recorded hominin presence in Western Europe.


Hugues-Alexandre Blain, Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social: Early hominin climate envelope: The lower vertebrate perspective

Steven Brandt (left) with Diane Petit Bois and Taylor Smith excavating at Mochena Borago Rockshelter in Ethiopia.
Photo: Elisabeth Hildebrand


Steven Brandt, University of Florida: Geochronology and geomorphology of Late Pleistocene deposits at Mochena Borago, Ethiopia: Contextualizing human behavioral changes >50 ka


Averill Cantwell, University of Michigan: The evolution of cognitive and behavioral flexibility in chimpanzees


Xiaoheng Cheng, University of Chicago: Examining linked and polygenic selection in time-stratified human genome samples

Emily Coco doing a survey for Paleolithic sites in Kazakhstan with the PALAEOSILKROAD team, which is run by my advisor Dr. Radu Iovita.


Emily Coco, New York University: Stone tool recycling and use of surface deposits in Paleolithic Kazakhstan

Youssef Djellal during the excavation of the MSA context at Bizmoune cave, Morocco. Photo: Fatima-zohra Rafi


Youssef Djellal, University of Algarve: Early Homo sapiens behavior in Morocco: Perspectives from artifact use wear and raw material sourcing

Sofya Dolotovskaya waiting for titi monkeys to come down from resting in the canopy, at the Estación Biológica Quebrada Blanco in the Peruvian Amazon. Photo:Sergey Moshkovskiy


Sofya Dolotovskaya, University of Texas at Austin: Intrasexual competition and mate choice in pair-living titi and owl monkeys

Giuseppe Donati in the forest in south-eastern Madagascar. Photo: Silvia Battisti


Giuseppe Donati, Oxford Brookes University: Navigating night and day: Shifting activity patterns in primate evolution

Gene Estrada at the Los Amigos Biological Research Station in the Peruvian Amazon where he was working on a tamarin behavioral project for the nonprofit organization Field Projects International. Photo: Ishaan Raghunandan, 2014


Gene Estrada, University of Michigan: Identifying the ecological correlates of arboreal primate terrestriality

Luke Fannin preparing to board a boat to go study the dietary ecology of long-tailed macaque monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) at Ko Khoram Island, Thailand.


Luke Fannin, Dartmouth College: Differentiating and quantifying siliceous particulate matter in the diets of primates

Hannah Farrell taking a smile break while working on CT scanning and reconstructing anthropoid clavicles.


Hannah Farrell, University of Chicago: An integrative approach to explore the functional morphology of the hominoid clavicle

This picture was taken as Julien Favreau was noting survey results along the lowermost beds at Oldupai Gorge, Tanzania. 
Photo: Laura Tucker


Julien Favreau, McMaster University: Geochemical sourcing of Oldowan and Acheulean stone tools at Oldupai Gorge, Tanzania


Philip Glauberman, University of Tübingen: Early Pleistocene hominin occupation and behavior in the Armenian Highlands


Quentin Goffette examining Palaeolithic bird bones from a Belgian cave site in the archaeozoology lab of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels. Photo: © Thierry Hubin, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences


Quentin Goffette, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences: Exploitation of birds by Paleolithic hunter-gatherers in Belgium: Chronocultural framework


David Gokhman, Weizmann Institute of Science: Mapping the DNA sequences that underlie human-chimpanzee gene expression differences

Abigail Hall in the Rift Valley of Kenya.


Abigail Hall, University of Minnesota: The ecological context of early ape evolution



Corey Johnson excavating at the site of Donggutuo in the Nihewan Basin, China in 2019. Photo: Tong Guan


Corey Johnson, University of California, Davis: Investigating patterns of Lower Paleolithic technological development at Nihewan Basin, China

Anubhav Preet Kaur conducting a site exploration visit in the Siwalik Hills north of Chandigarh, India. Photo: Lakshay Verma


Anubhav Preet Kaur, IISER Mohali: Understanding the human-animal-environment interface in the Pinjore Formation (2.6-0.7 million years) of the Chandigarh Siwalik Frontal Range of northern India

Austin Lawrence studying hominin pelvis fossils at the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi.
Photo: Carol Ward


Austin Lawrence, University of Missouri: Effect of hip joint orientation and pelvic morphology on human locomotor biomechanics: Implications for interpreting locomotion in the hominin fossil record

Andrés Link in the field setting camera traps to monitor primates at mineral licks in a lowland forest.
Photo: Anthony Di Fiore


Andrés Link, Fundación Proyecto Primates: Ecological and environmental factors influencing the behavior of owl monkeys

Laura Longo in the Caucasus overlooking the canyon where the cave of Ortvale klde is located. This cave is one of the sites involved in Dr. Longo’s Leakey Foundation project.


Laura Longo, University of Venice: Mill(e)-Stones: Ground stones and plant food processing during MIS 3 in the Caucasus

Abiodun Olowo at Federal Cooperative College, Orji River, Enugu. Photo: Mr. Emmanuel Ishola


Abiodun Olowo, University of Ibadan: Morphology and genetics of facial variation among Nigerian ethnic groups

Alejandra Pascual-Garrido conducting chimpanzee fieldwork in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania.
Photo: Nasibu Zuberi Madumbi


Alejandra Pascual-Garrido, Oxford University and Durham University: Archaeological signatures of plant-based chimpanzee tools: Implications for the origins of technology

Kathleen Paul collecting dental morphology data from models housed in the Murray Barrett Laboratory at the School of Dentistry, University of Adelaide (South Australia) as part of a previous research project.


Kathleen Paul, University of Arkansas: Genetic architecture of internal and external tooth configuration in non-human primates

Alaz Peker during a visit to Nasera Rockshelter in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania in 2018.


Alaz Deniz Peker, MONREPOS Archaeological Research Centre and Museum for Human Behavioural Evolution: Second Year Baldwin Support

Dr. Jeffrey Rogers at the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor University.


Jeffrey Rogers, Baylor College of Medicine: Genomic analysis of Papio baboon diversity: A model of hominin differentiation

Dr. Liran Samuni on the Bafing river in Moyen Bafing National Park, Guinea.

Gordon P. Getty Grant Laureate


Liran Samuni, Harvard University: Group specific tool-use behavior and tool-use flexibility in chimpanzees living in a savanna-mosaic environment at the Moyen-Bafing National Park, Guinea

Dr. Clara Scarry in Iguazú, Argentina, photographing capuchin monkeys as part of my long-term research on cooperation and intergroup aggression. Photo: Cecilia Di Bernardi


Clara Scarry, California State University: Individual male participation in intergroup aggression by white-bellied spider monkeys

Kahsay Nugsse Tesfay at work in the South Afar Depression in Ethiopia. He is measuring the orientation of a paleomagnetic core sample in the outcrops.

Francis H. Brown African Scholar

Kahsay Nugsse Tesfay, Baylor University: Paleomagnetic and magnetostratigraphic investigation of late Miocene – Pleistocene deposits from the Gona research area, Afar Depression, Ethiopia

Michaela Zewdu Tizazu conducting an archeological field survey of obsidian sourcing in a site called Bantu, which is located in Wolaita Sodo Southwestern part of Ethiopia. 


Michaela Zewdu Tizazu: University of Florida, Second Year Baldwin Support

Dr. Kaia Tombak observing strongyle parasites found in zebra dung at Mpala Research station, Kenya. Photo: Andy Johnson


Kaia Tombak, City University of New York, Nutrient regulation in bonobos and western lowland gorillas: A physiological constraint or local adaptation?

Nikoloz Tsikaridze at Bronze Cave, Tsutskhvati, 2020, Photo: Levan Beradze


Nikoloz Tsikaridze, Georgian National Museum: Investigations of the Middle-Upper Paleolithic transition at Bronze Cave, Tsutskhvati, Georgia

Tatiane Valença showing a stone used as a hammer by a bearded capuchin monkey in Ubajara National Park, Brazil. Photo: Beatriz Cabrera


Tatiane Valença, University of São Paulo: Understanding the role of terrestriality and risk perception in tool use

Bas van Boekholt in the field at Kibale National Park in Uganda.


Bas van Boekholt, University of Osnabruck: Turn-taking in social interactions of infant chimpanzees in the wild

Frido Welker in the lab. Credit: F. Welker


Frido Welker, Globe Institute, University of Copenhagen: A multi-enzyme reactor for palaeoproteomics

Dr. Erin Wessling in Moyen Bafing National Park, Guinea.
Daniel R. Green at the Turkwel Research Station in Turkana, Kenya, samples fossil teeth for isotope-based reconstructions of climatic and environmental change in Eastern Africa over the last 30 million years. Photo: John Ochieng Arum, Turkana Basin Institute, 2021


Erin Wessling, Harvard University and Daniel Green, Columbia University: Comparative and proximate chimpanzee oxygen isotope ecology as a model for hominin and paleoclimatic patterns


Roshna Wunderlich, James Madison University: System Ontogeny of locomotor mechanics and energetics in wild sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi)



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