Photo by: Purwo Kuncoro

Introducing Our Spring 2020 Grantees

Reading Time: 7 minutes

The Leakey Foundation held our “virtual” spring 2020 granting session on May 2, 2020. Our board of trustees unanimously approved 31 research grant proposals for funding.

Here are some numbers from our spring 2020 granting cycle:

There were 102 applications for research grants.

32% were behavioral applications. 68% were paleoanthropological applications.

468 reviews were submitted to our grants department this cycle. Thank you to our reviewers! We could not do it without you.

Congratulations to our new grantees. We look forward to sharing news and information about them and their research!


Dr. Margaret Corley working in the Yale Reproductive Ecology Laboratory.

Margaret Corley, Yale University: Hormonal correlates of pair-bonding and biparental care in owl monkeys

Patricia DeLacey in the Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia. She is kneeling next to a leader male gelada who is being groomed by an adult female. In this photo, she is about to begin data collection as the geladas have just started their day.

Patricia DeLacey, University of Michigan: Is the chest patch a sexually selected signal in geladas

Jacob Feder conducting focal observations of geladas in the Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia.

Jacob Feder, Stony Brook University: Patterns of social bonds and developmental outcomes in juvenile geladas

Anthony Massaro searching for chimpanzees in Gombe National Park.

Anthony Massaro, University of Minnesota: Demographic effects on reproductive competition and cooperation in male chimpanzee

Lais Moreira at UMA Hilda O’Farril, environmental management unit, Mexico.

Lais Moreira, University of Calgary: The potential use of chemical communication in black-handed spider monkey

Sandro Sehner, Anthropological Institute and Museum UZH: The evolution of teaching: A broad perspective on information donation in primates

Antoine Souron in front of Ngorongoro Crater, on his way to Olduvai to study Pleistocene Tanzanian mammals

Antoine Souron, PACEA UMR 5199, Université de Bordeaux: Detecting seasonal consumption of plant underground storage organs by geladas

Samantha Stead in a forest fragment near Lake Nabugabo, Uganda, where she was collecting observational data and fecal samples from Rwenzori Angolan colobus monkeys.

Samantha Stead, University of Toronto: Allomaternal care and maternal energetics in wild Rwenzori Angolan colobus monkeys

Shasta Webb in Sector Santa Rosa, Área de Conservacion Guanacaste, Costa Rica in 2018. She was collecting behavioral and dietary data, as well as fecal samples, from wild white-faced capuchin monkeys to better understand how they respond to natural changes and pressures in seasonal environments through altering their behaviour, diet, and gut microbes.

Photo by David Hormann.

Shasta Webb, University of Calgary: Understanding digestive flexibility through gut microbiome changes at short timescales

Eva Wikberg is using dictaphone and binoculars to collect observational data of Colobus vellerosus at Boabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary, Ghana.

Eva Wikberg, University of Texas at San Antonio: Causes and consequences of behavioral flexibility in the Boabeng-Fiema population of Colobus vellerosus: Is social flexibility sufficient for coping with changing environments


Daniel S. Adler on survey near Aparan, Armenia, 2017.

Daniel Adler, University of Connecticut: The Early to Late Pleistocene settlement of Northern Armenia

Julia Arenson in the Wind River Basin, Wyoming on a field expedition exploring early mammalian and primate evolution in the Eocene of North America.

Julia Arenson, Research Foundation of CUNY: Hominin phylogenetic methodology: A comparative test using colobine evolutionary history

Lucinda Backwell, Mansweta Heinrich (forefront), Xoa//’an /ai!ae, and Francesco d’Errico in Tsumkwe, Namibia.

Lucinda Backwell, University of the Witwatersrand: Border Cave: Cradle of early modern humans in South Africa

Mariam Bundala (right) and her field assistant (left) Mr. Gido Lasway surveying the Lower Member of the Manyara Beds at Makuyuni site 4 in Tanzania in 2019.

Mariam Bundala, University of Calgary: Paleoenvironmental reconstruction of the Manyara Beds (Tanzania) using phytolith analysis

Dr. Habiba Chirchir holding a cast of Lucy’s femur and a modern human femur in her lab at Marshall University in WV, about to demonstrate how to use a peripheral Quantitative Computed Tomography scanner

Habiba Chirchir, Marshall University: Trabecular bone morphology, gracilization and locomotion in Koobi Fora hominins

Tessa Cicak standing in front of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History after completing a research visit to their primate collection.

Tessa Cicak, University of Minnesota: Examining the role of competition in primate dietary morphology and isotopes

Rob Davis (right) and Becky Scott undertaking a fire experiment during the 2019 field season at the Lower Paleolithic site at Barnham, Suffolk, UK.

Robert Davis, British Museum: Burning question: Fire-use in northwest Europe 400,000 years ago

Hyunwoo Jung, PhD candidate at the Buffalo Human Evolutionary Morphology Lab, University at Buffalo

Hyunwoo Jung, University at Buffalo SUNY: Developmental and functional integration in the axial skeleton of anthropoids

Somaye Khaksar in the lithics lab at the University of Minnesota, getting prepared to work on an experimental lithic assemblage for her PhD research.

Somaye Khaksar, University of Minnesota: The effect of edge segmentation on lithic blank cutting efficiency and technological transitions in the Pleistocene

John Kingston at the summit of the Tugen Hills, just west of Lake Baringo, in the Central Kenyan Rift Valley. That day, Kingston and his team were prospecting for fossil hominoid sites in older sediments around 10-12 million years old. The landscape behind him is about 2500 meters high and lush with farms and villages. Vegetation makes prospecting for fossil sites challenging. Just a few years ago, this area took 6-8 hours to get to from the lake but new roads have just been introduced, providing better access that Kingston hopes will make it easier to find more sites.

John Kingston, University of Michigan: Beyond the “mosaic paradigm”: Characterizing habitat heterogeneity in hominin evolution

Alexandra Kralick with the orangutan male that inspired her project. She’s holding the skull of an adult unflanged male orangutan from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s Collection.

Alexandra Kralick, University of Pennsylvania: CT scan analysis of orangutan skeletal measurements and Its relationship to secondary sexual characteristic development

William Lukens, James Madison University: Paleoenvironments of early-middle Miocene catarrhine localities in West Turkana, Kenya

Alexander Mackay at Klipfonteinrand, in South Africa in 2011.

Alexander Mackay, University of Wollongong: The organization of Still Bay technology in southern Africa

Carrie Mongle at work at the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi.

Carrie Mongle, American Museum of Natural History: Re-evaluating human evolution: The role of postcranial data in reconstructing hominin evolutionary relationships

As a molecular anthropologist studying human evolutionary genomics, Samantha Queeno’s “fieldwork” takes place in the lab. Here she is in the Molecular Anthropology Group cell lab at the University of Oregon “feeding” liver cells.

Samantha Queeno, University of Oregon: MicroRNAs, myofibers, and the evolution of endurance locomotion in hominins

Hailay Reda at the Galili Research Area, in the Afar Region of Ethiopia. His work aims to reconstruct the environments ancient hominins lived in.

Hailay Reda, University of Oregon: Reconstructing the paleoecology of Woranso-Mille hominins using cercopithecids.

Jonathan Reeves holding a fragment of a Bovid mandible on an excavation in South Africa.

Jonathan Reeves, Institute for Archaeological Sciences: Detecting signatures of social information transfer in the Early Pleistocene: A least effort approach

Jeffrey Spear, New York University: Integration and homoplasy in the forelimb of suspensory primates

Jessica Thompson leading excavations at the Hora 1 site in northern Malawi. People in the background from left to right are: Daudi Mwangomba, Benjamin Nkosi, and Joseph Nkosi.

Jessica Thompson, Yale University: Late Pleistocene environments and hunter-gatherer adaptations in the Kasitu Valley of Malawi

Yossi Zaidner in the field before the beginning of 2019 season of excavations at Tinshemet Cave in Israel.

Yossi Zaidner, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem: New Middle Paleolithic human fossils from the Levant: Excavations at Tinshemet Cave, Israel

Angel Zeininger (right) teaching children at the North Carolina Zoo about great ape anatomy, behavior, and conservation.

Angel Zeininger Duke University: Foot posture in orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) and the evolution of human heel strike

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