About Us

Maureen McCarthy is a PhD Candidate in Integrative and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Southern California. She received her Master’s Degree in Experimental Psychology from Central Washington University, where she studied the gestural communication of chimpanzees who have acquired American Sign Language. She has more than a decade of experience studying captive and free-ranging primates.

Maureen is currently in Uganda for a year to study the behavioral ecology and genetics of chimpanzees in fragmented forest habitats. Dr. Craig Stanford advises her research. This is Maureen’s fourth trip to Uganda—she’s been there several times before to volunteer as a research assistant and to collect pilot data for her dissertation. When she’s not busy collecting chimpanzee poop or getting malaria, Maureen enjoys birding, hiking, and photography. Follow her on Twitter @mccarthymaureen.


Jack Lester is a biologist and recent Master’s Degree recipient from Central Washington University. Jack is Maureen’s Senior Field Assistant, a title for which he’s well qualified. Jack has collected primate field research data for numerous projects since 2006, and this is his third trip to Uganda. Among Jack’s many talents are his mechanical skills and his sharp navigational instincts. When Jack’s not assisting Maureen, he’s usually catching frogs, taking photos, or cooing lovingly at Land Rovers.


This research would not be possible without the generous support of the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences, the USC Jane Goodall Center, Primate Conservation, Inc., and the American Society of Primatologists.



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