I am a PhD student in primatology at the CUNY Graduate Center and part of the New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology (NYCEP). My doctoral advisor is Dr. Andrea Baden, who leads the Primate Molecular Ecology Lab (PMEL). For my dissertation, I am studying black-and-white ruffed lemur vocalizations and how passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) and machine-learning can be used in conservation efforts for this Critically Endangered species. I conduct this research in the southeastern Malagasy COFAV rainforest corridor in collaboration with Centre ValBio research station. I am currently funded by a 2021-2022 Fulbright Fellowship to Madagascar. For this project, I am deploying PAM devices at sites that have not been surveyed comprehensively in decades, and for which we do not know the distribution or presence of lemurs. This is of particular importance as increasing rates of deforestation (especially during the COVID-19 pandemic) narrow this already-thin corridor. I use machine learning models to automatically detect/pick out ruffed lemur calls in spectrograms (2-D image representations of sound) from my long-term PAM recordings. These detections, combined with the spatial layout (GPS) of the devices, can then be used to model lemur distribution and range in the corridor.
I’m very interested in the emerging conservation technology field (check out WILDLABS and #techforwildlife on Twitter), which brings together computer scientists, engineers, conservation practitioners, and ecologists. As part of this, I co-maintain a Conservation Tech Directory site (read more about it on the ‘Education & Outreach’ page).
Prior to the PhD, I received a BS in Animal Science from Cornell University and a MS in Primate Behavior from Central Washington University. My master’s thesis was conducted at the Duke Lemur Center (Durham, North Carolina) and used an experimental paradigm to study social learning comparatively across 7 different lemur species. I am a born-and-raised New Yorker, and an avid Giants, Yankees, Islanders, and Red Bulls fan. When I’m not wearing my PhD hat, I love to horseback ride, hike and read historical fiction novels.