Meet The Team

Current Researchers and Students

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Theresa Schulze

Independent Researcher

September 2022 - Present

My name is Theresa Schulze. I recently graduated from the Julius-Maximilians University of Würzburg in Germany with a BSc in Biology. I joined GMERC to gain primate field experience before pursuing a Master's program. As mushrooms occur throughout the Issa Valley (esp. during the rainy season) and are long-known to be an important food for Issa's primates, my research focuses on the mycophagy among chimpanzees, baboons and red-tailed monkeys. To do this, I will look at when primates start eating mushrooms, which species they consume, and what percentage of the total diet is comprised by mushroom consumption. In addition, I am interested in the distribution and availability of fungi across Issa and whether this represents a high quality, fought after food! 

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Nora Bennamoun

Independent Researcher

August 2022 - Present

My name is Nora Bennamoun, I am a French student. I have a Bachelor in Biology from the University of Paris-Diderot in France, and I recently graduated in 2021 from the University of Oxford Brookes in England, with an MSc in Primate Conservation. My eagerness to work with chimpanzees led me to GMERC and work in the Issa Valley Research station. As fires occur annually over the dry season at Issa, my primary interest is to investigate how burned landscapes affect primate dietary ecology. I am focusing on primate behavioural responses and specifically diet to see if foods consumed in burned areas have different mechanical properties compared to those in unburned areas. 

During my time here, I will sample foods and analyse them using the FLS II (see picture). The machine allows us to "recreate '' food fractures when consumed by animals and measure e.g., toughness and stiffness of different foods. More soon!

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Máire Malone

Post-doctoral Researcher, Arizona State University

August 2022

I am a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Paleoecology Lab in Arizona State University's Institute of Human Origins. Prior to this, I obtained my PhD in Anthropology from the University of Michigan. I am currently beginning a project collecting detailed ecological data (climate, rainfall, soil and vegetation composition, as well as faunal distribution and abundance data) from the mosaic of habitats and vegetation types at Issa in order to build refined models for reconstructing the paleoenvironments of fossil hominin sites. I am using a combination of survey methods and camera trap footage to access these data. My previous/ongoing work uses hard tissue chemical and structural evidence to investigate dietary, biorhythmic, health, and life history variability in numerous primates, including humans.

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Payton Sime

Research student, University of California, Santa Cruz

September 2021 - Present

My name is Payton Sime. I graduated from the University of California Santa Cruz with a BA in Biological Anthropology and a BS in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. I have been a part of the Chimpanzee Video Coding Team in the PEMA Lab at UCSC for the last three years where our goal is to "code" the camera trap footage captured in the Issa Valley. This entails recording the species, quantity and behaviour of the animals present in the videos and identifying the chimpanzees by name and age/sex whenever possible. Through this work I have become very familiar with the species and individual chimpanzees living there and am thrilled at the opportunity to put this knowledge to use in the field. During my time here, I will be assisting Seth Phillips with his graduate research concerning termite behaviour and availability as well as collecting preliminary video footage of the chimpanzees termite fishing for a future masters or graduate thesis.