Photo by: Purwo Kuncoro

Introducing the spring 2022 Leakey Foundation grantees

We are pleased to announce the recipients of our spring 2022 Leakey Foundation Research Grants. 

These 36 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 aging, 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.


Renee Boucher excavating fossilized sand dollars (Astrodapsis spatiosus) from the Santa Margarita Formation (10-12 Ma), Santa Cruz Mountains, California. Photo Credit: A. Pignoli

Renee Boucher, University of California, Santa Cruz: The application of transition metals to hominid physiology and behavior

Bidisha Chakraborty standing in front of a provisioning site of rhesus macaques at her fieldsite in Jakhu Temple, Shimla, northern India. Photo credit: Krishna Pithva

Bidisha Chakraborty, University of California, Davis: Socioecological factors driving individual decisions to participate in between-group conflict among a group-living primate in an anthropogenic landscape

João Coimbra

João Coimbra, University of Johannesburg: Spatial vision and blue cone density in the primate retina

Jordan Crowell studying Paleocene mammal fossils in the vertebrate paleontology collection at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Photo credit: Stephen Chester

Jordan Crowell, The Graduate Center, CUNY: Unraveling primate supraordinal relationships: Insights from plesiadapiform cranial morphology

Maureen Devlin and Laura MacLatchy are investigating skeletal aging, including the prevalence of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, in the Ngogo chimpanzees. Photo credit: Isabel Hermsmeyer

Maureen Devlin, Eastern Michigan University: Skeletal aging in the Ngogo chimpanzees

Blake Dickson backpacking in Smoky Mountain National Park.

Blake Dickson, Duke University: Biomechanics of humeral curvature in the evolution of primate locomotion

Megan Henriquez during her study of hamadryas baboons in Awash National Park, Ethiopia.


Megan Henriquez, The Graduate Center, CUNY: The effects of sociality on parasite transmission in capuchin monkeys


Kathryn Judson, Washington University: Social influences on western lowland gorilla space use strategies


Alastair Key, University of Cambridge: Rescue excavations at the Lower Palaeolithic site of Fordwich, the earliest directly dated Acheulean site in the UK


Keiko Kitagawa, Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment: Spearthrowers or bows? Hunting and osseous projectile points of early modern humans in Eurasia


Auriane Le Floch, Université de Neuchâtel, Institut de biologie Université de Neuchâtel: Meaning of call combination in wild sooty mangabeys of the Taï National Park, Ivory Coast

George Leader collecting data from a handaxe in the Namib Desert’s central Sand Sea. Photo: Kaarina Efraim.


George Leader, The College of New Jersey: Early Hominin adaptations in arid landscapes of the Namib desert

Cheng Liu excavating at Neve David, an Epipaleolithic site in Israel. Credit: Reuven Yeshurun

Cheng Liu, Emory University: Inferring skill reproduction from stone artifacts: A middle-range approach

Alessandra Mascaro following a group of chimpanzees through a large and deep swamp. Photo: Roland Hilgartner

Alessandra Mascaro, University of Osnabrück Insect application and wound care in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes troglodytes) in the wild

Eduardo Méndez Quintas analyzing Iberian Palaeolithic stone tools in the lab.


Eduardo Mendez Quintas, University of Vigo: The Early Acheulean (~2.0-1.7 million years ago) on the Ethiopian highlands at Melka Kunture

Elaine Miller observing neurons of the chimpanzee brain in the Laboratory of Evolutionary Neuroscience at The George Washington University.

Elaine Miller, The George Washington University, Impact of early social adversity on brain structure in primates

Enquye Negash conducting fieldwork and soil sampling in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda.

Enquye Negash, The George Washington University: Modern African ecosystems as analogues for hominin paleo-landscapes

Tyler Nighswander, Indiana University: Cross-population comparison of ranging behavior and hormone profiles of wild and commensal hamadryas baboons in Saudi Arabia

Kaedan O’Brien taking microwear moulds of bovid teeth at Iziko South African Museum in Cape Town. Photo credit: J. Tyler Faith

Kaedan O’Brien, University of Utah: Seasonality, migratory systems, and the MSA-LSA transition in eastern Africa

Annette Oertle spotting ZooMS samples in the lab.


Annette Oertle, Universitaet Wien: Using ZooMS to identify new human fossils in archaeological deposits in Papua New Guinea

Ilaria Patania analyzing a dried up river channel in the Mt. Carmel valley to reconstruct past landscape and environmental changes that may have impacted settlement patterns and preservation of sites. Credit: Federico Salmoiraghi


Ilaria Patania, Washington University in St. Louis: The earliest migrations over the Mediterranean Sea

Danielle Peltier in the field at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania
Photo credit: Sam Anderson


Danielle Peltier, Indiana University – Bloomington: The drivers of faunal community dynamics and its implications on hominin occupation during Bed II times, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania

Susan Perry conducting research in the field at Lomas Barbudal in Costa Rica.


Susan Perry, University of California, Los Angeles: Impact of individual differences on cultural dynamics in capuchins.

Sunset on the Peruvian Amazon rainforest, Los Amigos Biological Station, Madre de Dios, Peru. Credit: Silvia Carboni


Alice Poirier, University of Calgary: Olfaction, reproduction, and the contributions of microbes


Elizabeth Quinn, Washington University: Comparative analysis of neurotrophic markers in non-human primate milk and correlations with infant brain growth

Weldeyared Reda
Weldeyared Reda in the Alemseged Lab, University of Chicago.


Weldeyared Reda, University of Chicago: Facial development and variation in Australopithecus afarensis: Implication for phylogeny in early hominins

Alice Rodriguez Alice Rodriguez examining an experimental stone tool used in a scraping hide activity at New York University.


Alice Rodriguez, City University of New York: Investigating use-wear patterns on handaxes from Europe and Asia

Sweaty and happy after a full day in the forest of Gombe National Park, Tanzania, Shannon Roivas will spend the next year collecting her dissertation data on the behavior and habitat of our closest relatives, chimpanzees. Her research focuses on how variation in the quality and spatial distribution of foods shapes chimpanzee sociality. Photo credit: Maggie Hoffman


Shannon Roivas, Arizona State University: Chimpanzee responses to variation in feeding habitat quality

Zana Sims doing data collection at the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi, July 2021.


Zana Sims, Johns Hopkins University: Examining phylogenetic and dietary signals using cervical root cross-sections in extant catarrhines

Kathrine Stewart collecting samples of water lilies (Nymphaea lotus) at the LuiKotale Bonobo Project field site, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Africa. Water lilies are potentially a key source of iodine for wild bonobos (Pan paniscus) at this site. Photo Credit: Mr. Nicolás Corredor Ospina


Kathrine Stewart, Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior: Bonobos as a model for early hominin use of iodine: Implications for human brain evolution

Aurore at an Iron Age/Later Stone Age/Middle Stone Age site in Limpopo Province, South Africa. Together with Guillaume Porraz, she has been running new excavations there since 2014. Last year, they redid the old museum inside the rock shelter. In this photo she is proudly showing a panel about the Iron Age occupation of the shelter. Photo: Guillaume Porraz


Aurore Val, Universität Tübingen: Archaeological excavations and prospection survey at Arimas Farm, southern Namibia, to explore early modern humans’ adaptation strategies to arid environments

Carol Ward in the field at Kanapoi.


Carol Ward, University of Missouri: 3D Musculoskeletal Anatomy and Biomechanics of the Hand and Foot in African Hominoids

Dorota Wojtczak in Abou-Habil, Jordan (2020). Photo: J. M. Le Tensorer.


Dorota Wojtczak, University of Basel: Uncovering Pleistocene population dynamics and behaviour of hunter-gatherers in the Jordan Valley, Jordan

David B. Wood (right) observes wild coppery titi monkeys (Plecturocebus cupreus) at Estación Biológica Quebrada Blanco, Peru, with field site manager Camilo Flores Amasifuen (left).
Photo by Dr. Sofya Dolotovskaya


David Wood, Yale University: Behavior and energetics of parenting in a biparental, neotropical primate

Koray Yilmaz in South Africa working with chacma baboons. Photo: Nick Ellwanger


Koray Yilmaz, University of Southern California: Measuring stress response and energetic status in a forest primate across a habitat-disturbance gradient

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


Yossi Zaidner, Hebrew University of Jerusalem: Middle Paleolithic burials and burial practices: Excavations at Tinshemet Cave, Israel



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