Looking Ahead, Looking Back: Miami Anthropology’s Rich Primatology Heritage
Since 1989, Dr. Linda Marchant has mentored undergraduates in primatology, many of whom have gone on to illustrious careers in Biological Anthropology, primatology, and related fields. Ten of her former students have earned PhDs and six others are currently in PhD programs. While Dr. Marchant will retire from teaching in spring 2019, her legacy thrives through her many dedicated students.
Two recent Miami Anthropology graduates exemplify Dr. Marchant’s impact. Nicole Schapker (2018) currently works as a research assistant for a behavioral ecology project studying black howlers (Alouatta pigra) at Palenque National Park in Chiapas, Mexico. Her work there is supervised by Dr. Sarie Van Belle (University of Texas- Austin), and next year she hopes to begin her Ph.D. studies.
Reflecting on her current work, Nicole shares the following about her fieldwork, the hallmark of anthropological training at Miami:
"We were with the monkeys from dawn to dusk, collecting data about their feeding habits and how they navigate in their territory. The aim is to understand the strategies behind finding food when high-quality resources are constantly popping in and out of existence in their home range. It was such a privilege to become acquainted with their lives, and of course, the babies were very cute."
Students like Nicole often return to Miami to share their continued growth as a scholar with current students in Biological Anthropology. Colin Brand (2014) did just this in September 2018, presenting his latest research to Miami Anthropology’s Primatology Club, and giving a guest lecture to Dr. Marchant’s “Primate Biology and Behavior” course. Colin completed his Masters in Science in 2015 from the University of Oregon, and he is now a doctoral student there. His fieldwork in the Democratic Republic of Congo was supported by a Young Explorers Grant from the National Geographic Society.
As a cornerstone of Miami Anthropology’s undergraduate education, Nicole, Colin, and countless other students bear witness to the significance of primatology for the future of science and the irreplaceable influence of a tireless mentor.