I am an NYU and Wired monkeys alumnus (obtained my B.A. in anthropology as Tony's advisee) and currently working on my Ph.D. in primatology at Washington University in St. Louis.
I maintain an active interest in wildlife sensing and computing and am interested in developing methods for detecting and analyzing behavior.
Data collection and management
Kafue National Park, Zambia
My current research is based in Kafue National Park, Zambia and focused on baboons. Our baboons live in a savanna (mixed grassland-woodland) ecosystem and our site typifies the look of a "Miombo" savanna environment. Our field conditions are much drier than at Tiputini and our baboons are semi-terrestrial, meaning that they spend a large portion of their time on the ground.
Our research program is a large collaborative project that is interested in the process of hybridization in baboons. Hybridization is successful mating between different species and our past research has identified several mixed-species groups based on their genetics and phenotypes. At Kafue National Park, the Kinda (pronounced kin-duh) baboon hybridizes with the gray-footed chacma baboon, which is very unexpected because the Kinda baboon is the smallest baboon and chacma baboons are the largest. The size difference is such that Kinda baboon males are about the same size as chacma females and chacma males are about three times the size of Kinda females.
My own research interests currently center on the mate recognition system in these two baboons species. How do they recognize and/or perceive each other? How does recognition correspond with mating success in the hybrid zone? Using genetic markers, we have observed that the smaller Kinda males "outcompete" chacma males in hybrid crosses. Our team has devised several scenarios to explain this, including "recognition" scenarios. For example, Kinda males may be so successful because they are tolerated by chacma males due to their female or juvenile-like appearance.
In summer 2012, I am conducting a preliminary study to look the acoustic mate recognition system and to see how baboons react when we play back select recordings. Here is an equipment list:
- Sennheiser ME 66 shotgun microphone capsule
- Sennheiser K6 powering module
- Pearstone DUSM-1 universal shockmount
- Pearstone universal microphone hand grip
- K-Tek KE-89CC aluminum boompole
- Pearstone 3-Pin XLR-M to angled 3-Pin XLR-F straight audio cable: 20' and 1.5' varieties
- Rycote Softie windshield: may get several
- Pearstone neoprene bag for boompole
- Marantz PMD660 compact flash recorder: Includes accessories, including a wired remote control.
- iPod Touch
- Volume Control app for iPod Touch: Here is an app ($1 on the Apple store) I found that standardizes the volume output on iOS devices. This was a problem because while iPods are great players and support .wav files, their volume controls are slider-based and ambiguous about their actual decibel output, which makes it difficult to control precisely. The app lets you visualize the decibel output, gives more fine-tuned control of volume settings, and allows for the creation of 4 volume presets.
- Bose Roommate 2 speakers: Must be portable. These are kept in a backpack and hung at an optimal "baboon-like" height
- Praat: Good free software for analyzing acoustic recordings (I am recording in .wav format).
Power (still shopping)
- MorningStar ProStar charge controller
- Xantrex Technologies 851-0400 XPower Plus 400-watt inverter
- Solar panels and car battery may be purchased in-country
Random fun things
- Using Python and Arduino to militarize your backyard against squirrels - fun exercise in computer vision and machine learning. Uses OpenCV.