Photo by: Purwo Kuncoro

Introducing Our Spring 2019 Grantees

Reading Time: 8 minutes

On May 4, 2019, The Leakey Foundation’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved 35 grant proposals for funding. We are proud to introduce our spring 2019 research grant recipients, and we look forward to sharing news and information about them and their research.

Here are some numbers from our spring 2019 granting cycle:

  • There were 116 applications for research grants
  • 38% were for behavioral research projects
  • 62% were for paleoanthropology research projects.
  • 469 reviews were submitted to our grants department.

Thank you to our reviewers! We could not do it without you.


William L. Allen, Swansea University:  Character displacement of face appearance in primate evolution

Sofia Carrera in the Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia getting ready to collect behavioral data.

Sofia Carrera, University of Michigan:  Early-life adversity: Maternal effects in a wild primate

Natasha Coutts conducting research at the Cyamudongo chimpanzee community in Nyungwe National Park, Rwanda.

Natasha Jane Coutts, The University of Western Australia:  Socioecology and the gut microbiome of eastern chimpanzees in Rwanda

Steve Lansing with Ogot, Marnyi, and Sandi of the Cave Punan in Indonesian Borneo.

John Stephen Lansing, Santa Fe Institute:  Pilot study of Cave Punan hunter-gatherers of Borneo

Kevin Lee, Arizona State University:  Do female chimpanzees at Ngogo form social bonds, and why?

Emily Levy with her photogrammetry gear, with baboons and Kilimanjaro in the background. Photo by Dr. Catherine Markham.

Emily J. Levy, Duke University:  Early adversity, body size, and immune function in wild baboons

Sheina Lew-Levy is a postdoctoral researcher in the department of psychology at Simon Fraser University. With Annemieke Milks (archaeology–University College London), her project will examine how spear hunting knowledge is acquired by BaYaka adolescents. This project builds upon her doctoral research on learning through play, participation, and teaching among Hadza and BaYaka hunter-gatherers.

Sheina Lew-Levy, Simon Fraser University:  Hand-thrown spears: Ballistics, accuracy and learning to hunt among BaYaka Congo Basin foragers

Jayashree Mazumder following a trail to track a gibbon group at the Hoolongapar Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary in Assam, India.

Jayashree Mazumder, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research:  Exploring tool-use by long-tailed macaques in the Nicobar Islands, India and associated factors

Dr. Arijit Pal is studying tool-aided extractive foraging behavior in an elusive Nicobar long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis umbrosus) in Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve, Andaman and Nicobar Archipelago, India.

Arijit Pal, University of Lethbridge:  Affordance learning: From object play to tool use?

Deep in the heart of the Likouala region of the Republic of the Congo, Dr. Sarah Pope sits in a tree overlooking a Bayaka forest camp during caterpillar season.

Sarah Michelle Pope, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology:  The impact of resource predictability on variation in cognitive flexibility

Gabriele Schino and Elsa Addessi with a female capuchin monkey named Quincy.

Gabriele Schino, Istituto di Scienze e Tecnologie della Cognizione, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche:  Testing the cognitive components of primate cooperation

Christopher A Schmitt, Boston University:  Modeling the evolution of obesity: Gene expression, dought, and anthropogenic stress in wild vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus)

Andrew Zamora (r) in the field in Tsingy de Beanka Reserve located in central western Madagascar. On the left is Charles Rasolondravoavy, a recent Malagasy masters graduate who collaborated with Zamora during his field studies. In the middle is a local guide named Delegue who also works as a ranger for Biodiversity Conservation Madagascar (BCM), the managing authority for Beanka.

Andrew John Zamora, University of Massachusetts Amherst:  Socio-genomic evolution of Sifakas (Propithecus)


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

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

Andrew Best in the lab preparing for a data collection. He stimulates sweating in volunteers using pilocarpine iontophoresis, and then makes impressions of the sweating skin to count active sweat glands. He is testing whether early childhood climate is correlated with sweat gland density.

Andrew William Best, University of Massachusetts Amherst:  Diversity and evolution of human eccrine sweat glands

Hervé Bocherens in the “Centro de interpretación primeros pobladores de Europa Josep Gibert” in Orce (Andalusia, Spain).

Hervé Bocherens, University of Tübingen:  Environment of early hominins outside Africa: The Guadix-Baza Basin

Dr. Emanuele Cancellieri of the Department of Ancient World Studies (Sapienza University of Rome) collecting samples during field research in southern Tunisia.

Emanuele Cancellieri, Università di Roma:  Archaeology, chronology, and environment of northern Sahara early Middle Stone Age

Mark Conaway, University at Buffalo – SUNY:  Hominoid postcranial integration in relation to function and evolutionary history

Dr. Darren Curnoe examines a human tooth excavated from 55,000-year-old sediments at the Trader’s Cave, Niah National Park, Borneo. Photo by Brendan Daniel, 2019.

Darren Curnoe, The University of New South Wales:  Tracing the earliest modern humans in island Southeast Asia

Kimberly Foecke (left) with her undergraduate mentee Druonna Collier (right) assessing the growth progress of an experimental set of plants that Neanderthals may have eaten.

Kimberly Foecke, George Washington University:  Neanderthal diet: Effects of food selection and processing on δ15N

Dr. Irene Gallego Romero is being supported by The Leakey Foundation to use high-throughput cellular and genetic screens to understand the contributions of Denisovan DNA to modern humans in Papua New Guinea.

Irene Gallego Romero, The University of Melbourne:  Functional evaluation of archaic Denisovan variants in Island Southeast Asia

Daniel García Martínez studying the original thoracic remains of Homo naledi for its publication, at the University of Witwatersrand in May 2014.

Daniel García Martínez, Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana:  Covariation of internal and external costal anatomy and its importance for understanding the evolution of the human thorax

Deanna Goldstein at a field site in Fruita, Colorado, where she was working to excavate Late Jurassic mammals from the Morrison Formation.

Deanna Murphy Goldstein, Johns Hopkins University:  Carpal allometry among African apes and other mammals

Lauren Gonzales working with members of a field crew in southern Peru to scout for fossils by boat along the Amazon River.

Lauren Gonzales, University of South Carolina:  Reconstructing the paleoecology of the middle Miocene (>14.7 Mya) site of Maboko Island, western Kenya

Terry Harrison, New York University:  Paleoanthropological research in the Lower Laetolil Beds, Tanzania

Erella Hovers  (below) taking photos during excavations at the MW 5 Acheulian locality (Melka Wakena site complex in the central highlands of Ethiopia).

Erella Hovers, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem:  Giant core workshops at the Acheulian site of Melka Wakena, Ethiopia

Richard F. Kay, Duke University:  Recovering Paleogene and early Neogene Primates from Tropical South America

Clare Kimock studying rhesus macaques on Cayo Santiago in Puerto Rico.

Clare Kimock, New York University:  Rhesus macaque canine dimorphism in evolutionary context

Jonathan Paige excavating the el-Hemmeh site in the Wadi Hasa of Jordan.

Jonathan N. Paige, Arizona State University:  Estimating the reliability of stone tools in reconstructing cultural relationships in prehistory

Justin Pargeter taking strontium isotope samples from modern vegetation and soils for paleo vegetation and mammalian grazing and mobility studies in Pondoland, South Africa.

Justin Pargeter, New York University:  The archaeological sequence at Boomplaas Cave, South Africa: New light on human adaptations to rapid climate change across the late Pleistocene

Ismael Sánchez-Morales (left) and colleague archaeologist Carlos Hernández-Jaimes preparing a gomphothere mandible for extraction at El Fin del Mundo Clovis killsite in Sonora, Mexico.

Ismael Sánchez Morales, University of Arizona:   Aterian lithic technological variability: Implications for MSA land-use in Morocco

Chalachew Seyoum at the National Museums of Kenya where he was collecting data for his Leakey Foundation supported dissertation research in 2018.

Chalachew Seyoum, Arizona State University:  Collection and preparation of modern gelada monkey remains from Guassa Community Conservation Area and Simien Mountain National Park, Ethiopia

Irene Smail collecting fossils while on survey at the Ledi-Geraru field site in Ethiopia. Ellis Locke, a fellow graduate student can be seen in the background. Photo by Eric Scott.

Irene SmailArizona State University:  Community ecology of living and fossil cercopithecid primates

Elizabeth Werren in the Bielas lab for Neurogenetics at the University of Michigan. She is in the tissue culture hood changing media on cerebral brain organoids (‘mini-brains’) derived from human embryonic stem cells.

Elizabeth Werren, University of Michigan:  Human-specific gene expansion during human brain evolution

Yossi Zaidner at the Tinshemet Cave excavation in August 2017.

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

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