Hominoid Psychology Research Group



Dr. Esther Hermann

Post-Doctoral Associate at Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

Esther played a pivotal role in establishing our relationship with and conducting the first research at the Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Congo-Brazzaville.

Dr. Alicia Melis

Assistant Professor in the Behavioural Science Group at Warwick Business School

Alicia played a pivotal role in establishing our relationship with and conducting the first research at Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Uganda.

Dr. Victoria Wobber

The aim of her research while at Duke was to investigate the origins of human social behavior and cognition, including the underlying physiological mechanisms. 

PhD Students

Dr. Kara Walker

Class of 2016Postdoctoral Associate, Duke University

Kara's research focuses on the evolution of social behavior & cognition, primarily in apes.  Her main interest is in understanding the ontogeny of social relationships, particularly during female-transfer in Pan species where adolescents must leave their natal group and integrate quickly into a neighboring community before they can begin reproduction.

Dr. Chris Krupenye

Class of 2016Postdoctoral Researcher, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

Chris researches developmental and comparative psychology with a special interest in the theory of mind in great apes and other primates.

Dr. Jingzhi "Hippo" Tan

Class of 2013Postdoctoral Scholar, University of California- San Diego

Jingzhi studies the psychological mechanisms of cooperation and trust in humans, nonhuman primates, and dogs.

Dr. Evan MacLean

Class of 2012Assistant Professor at University of Arizona

Evan was also a former postdoctoral fellow and co-director of the Duke Canine Cognition Center.  He continues his work investigating what makes the human mind unique, and broader evolutionary questions regarding the proximate mechanisms and functional significance of cognition. 

Dr. Alexandra Rosati

Class of 2012Assistant Professor at University of Michigan

Alex's research focuses on how ecology shapes behavioral strategies and psychological abilities in primates, including lemurs, chimpanzees and bonobos.

Lab Managers

Ben Allen

Class of '16, Lab Manager '16-'17

Law student at Vermont Law School. Ben worked with different adult dog populations as an undergraduate with the lab. For his thesis, titled "Comparison of temperament and social cognition in juvenile dogs and wolves", Ben studied the differences between dog and wolf puppies.  After graduating, Ben worked as the lab coordinator in the Hare Lab for one year before moving to D.C. to work with Population Connection and then attending law school.

Kerri Rodriguez

Class of '13, Lab Manager '13-'15

Graduate Student at Purdue University. Kerri was one of the first and foremost experimentalists at the DCCC, developing and implementing our cognitive testing battery on dogs and captive wolves alike. Her research now focuses on the psychosocial effects of service dogs for veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder.

Kate Almon

Lab Manager '14-'15

Guide Dogs for the Blind. Kate is now a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor, applying her experiences and knowledge of dog cognition to help train wonderful service dogs.

Sophia Laderman

Lab Manager '13-'14

Sophie applied her background in psychology and marine science to cognition research with dogs. She worked with pet, military, and service dogs alike.

Kara Leimberger

Class of '11, Lab Manager '12-'13Graduate Student at University of Texas at Austin with Dr. Rebecca Lewis

Her research interests broadly include cooperation, group coordination, and social cognition. Given that most primates face uncertain futures, she is also very involved with conservation and science outreach.

Rachna Reddy

Class of '12, Lab Manager '12-'13Graduate Student at University of Michigan Gradu with Dr. John Mitani

Rachna's research focuses on cognition and social relationships in primates, and she completed a senior thesis called, "Do red ruffed lemurs yawn contagiously?"

Judy Songrady

Lab Manager '12-'13Veterinary Student at Szent István University

In addition to helping with dog projects, Judy was interested in bonobos and great ape conservation.

Thesis Students

Sruti Pisharody

Class of '15Medical Student at the Duke University

Sruti's research interests were in conservation psychology and how to incentivize people to contribute to environmental causes.  After graduation, she taught in Malaysia as part of the Fulbright Program, and she is now a medical student at Duke.

Jeremy Clift

Class of '15

As a member of the Hare lab, Jeremy had the opportunity to study the cognition of dogs, lemurs, and chimpanzees. For his thesis, Jeremy investigated how chimpanzees process novel dominance relationships. He now works as a research assistant at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

Leah Kaiser

Class of '14

Leah's research interests were with lemur social cognition and chimp transitive inference. Her senior thesis project was called, "The evolution of transitive inference: Chimpanzees' performance with social and nonsocial stimuli." She helped immensely with educational outreach projects for children. After graduating, Leah stayed with the Hare Group as a research assistant for the summer to study wolf puppy cognition.

Monica Chelius

Class of '14

Monica completed her senior thesis project on a project called, "The ingroup-outgroup bias of scratch and yawn contagion in humans." She was generally interested in studying human behaviors to help understand human evolutionary origins.

Joel Bray

Class of '13Graduate Student at the Arizona State University with Dr. Ian Gilby

Joel completed his senior thesis on social cognition in lemurs. His project was called, "Are lemurs sensitive to the visual and auditory perception of others?" Taking a comparative approach, he hopes to better understand the selective pressures influencing primate cognitive evolution.

Ben Finkel

Class of '13Graduate Student at University of Michigan with Dr. Andy Marshall

Ben conducted an honors thesis that combined his interest in education outreach and conservation research called, "How do portrayals of chimpanzees as either aggressive of affiliative can affect our conservation perception?" His project examined how portrayals of chimpanzees as either aggressive of affiliative can affect our conservation perception.

Sandeep Prasanna

Class of '11UCLA School of Law

Sandeep completed his senior thesis on a project entitled "Let's talk: why do we cooperate?".  His study investigated the role of communication in human cooperation asking questions such as:  How does communication affect our willingness to cooperate? How does communication compare to altruistic punishment in affecting levels of cooperation, and which do people prefer to engage in?

Aaron Sandel

Class of '10Assistant Professor at University of Texas, Austin

Aaron completed his honors thesis on lemur social cognition with the project titled, "Does ring-tailed lemur social cognition converge with that of haplorhine primates?" After graduating, Aaron worked with Dr. Anne Pusey for one year as a research associate.