Lab members & Prospective trainees

PROSPECTIVE TRAINEES

Students interested in pursuing a graduate degree in Biology at the Master’s or PhD level should take the time to review my recent publications and should contact me directly (vschoof[at]glendon[dot]yorku[dot]ca). Applicants should sent an email detailing their research interests and experience, include a CV, academic transcript (unofficial is OK), and the name and contact information for three references. While international field experience is beneficial, I recognize that structural inequalities (and the COVID-19 pandemic) can make it challenging to obtain such experience; therefore, I welcome students to include any relevant experience that demonstrates resilience.

At this time, I may take one Master’s or PhD student in September 2023, though this may change depending on funding availability. Interested students who wish to apply for NSERC CGS-D, NSERC CGS-M, or provincial funding (e.g., FQRNT) should contact me well in advance of the application deadlines. Canadian students from underrepresented groups are especially encouraged to apply.

Students with a background in biology, environmental studies, biological anthropology, psychology, geography, or other related fields are welcome to apply. I am especially interested in applicants who would like to focus on some aspect of vervet reproductive strategies, dominance, development, life-history, endocrinology,  and/or dimensions of human-wildlife interaction (field sites: Lake Nabugabo, Uganda and Lewa-Borana Conservancy, Kenya). Please see York’s “Steps to apply“.

CURRENT LAB MEMBERS

Angelica Drexler, BSc student/research assistant 2020-2023: Angelica has been working in the lab since her first year at Glendon College, entering and managing data, and extracting hormones from feces collected at the Toronto Zoo in 2021. For her honours thesis, she will be examining fluctuations in glucocorticoid metabolites to varying levels of visitors at the zoo.

Taylor FANE photoTaylor Fane, MSc student 2021-2023: Taylor is interested in primate mating strategies and dominance. She will study vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) at Lewa-Borana Conservancy to assess the relationship between male dominance rank and mating success. Taylor received her BSc in Zoology from the University of Guelph in 2017.

MARTINS_Melissa_website photo

Melissa Martins, MSc student 2019-2022: Melissa graduated with a BSc in Biology from the University of Guelph in 2018. Using GIS, she mapped the enclosure use, behaviours, and interactions of captive Western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) in response to visitors at the Toronto Zoo. She cares deeply about animal welfare. She has worked at the African Lion Safari in Hamilton and the Toronto Zoo. Her Master’s project focuses on the influence of microhabitat characteristics on habitat use in the human-modified landscape surrounding Lake Nabugabo.

Simran Prasad Simran Prasad, PhD student 2021-2025: Simran completed her BSc in Biology at Concordia University in 2018. She has also worked at Charles River Laboratories as a biomarker analyst. She obtained her MScA in Animal Sciences from McGill University in 2020 and wrote a systematic literature review regarding enrichment practices for nonhuman primates in laboratory settings, while also working as a research assistant in Dr. Vasseur’s lab. Simran is passionate about animal welfare and is excited to study male reproductive success, dispersal, and population genetics in two populations of wild vervet monkeys.

SCHWEGEL_Megan_PhotoMegan Schwegel, MSc student 2020-2023: Megan was awarded an NSERC Undergraduate Research Award and spent the 2018 Summer studying the influence of maternal dominance rank on mothering style in vervets. She returned to the lab for the 2019-2020 academic year to complete an honours thesis using the data she collected in 2018, and received a 2020 NSERC USRA to write up her thesis for publication. Her Master’s thesis will examine the effects of demographic change on social networks and female reproductive success in vervet monkeys.

 

Lina Rademacher, MSc student 2021-2023: Lina’s research will focus on female reproductive strategies in vervet monkeys at Lake Nabugabo, Uganda.

Pooja photoPooja Upadhayay, PhD student 2019-2023: Pooja obtained her MSc from Tribhuvan University (Zoology) in Nepal in 2018. She completed a thesis on “Mother-infant relationships among Assamese monkey (Macaca assamensis McClelland, 1840) and Rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta Zimmermann, 1780) in Shivapuri-Nagarjun National Park, Kathmandu, Nepal” under the supervision of Dr. Mukesh Chalise. She has also been involved in numerous research projects through the Nepal Biodiversity Research Society. Due to COVID-19, her PhD project had to be rethought, and she will now be working on human-vervet interactions.

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Justine Vermey, MSc student 2019-2021: In 2017, Justine completed her BSc at the University of Windsor where she conducted a research project titled “Does the frequency of male vocalizations influence female mate choice in Yellow Toads, Incilius luetkenii ?”. Justine’s Master’s research focuses on personality assessment in two populations of vervet monkeys in East Africa using questionnaires that are to be validated with behavioural data.

PAST GRADUATE STUDENTS

  • Karin Snyder, MSc thesis, 2021: Sexual signalling in male vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus): influences of hormones, behaviour, and parasitism on scrotal and penile skin coloration.
  • Simon L’Allier, MSc thesis, 2020: Behavioural endocrinology of male dispersal in vervet monkeys at Lake Nabugabo, Uganda.

PAST BSc STUDENTS

  • Miruna Jurj, BSc thesis (literature review), 2021: Investigating the phenotypic flexibility of folivorous primates in response to anthropogenic habitat modification & the implications for conservation strategies: a literature review.
  • Shu’ayb Simmons, BSc thesis (research), 2021: Diurnal variation in male white-faced capuchin (Cebus imitator) faecal glucocorticoids, testosterone, and dihydrotestosterone. Currently a graduate student at the University of Toronto.
  • Stephanie Alexander, BSc thesis (research), 2021: A comparison of community surveys detailing observations of vervet (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) crop foraging and occurrences recorded on camera trap footage.
  • Megan Schwegel, BSc thesis (research), 2020: Breeding seasonality and stacked reproductive investment in female vervet monkeys at Lake Nabugabo, Uganda.
  • Dina Greenberg, BSc thesis (research), NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award 2019: Examining the relationship between fecal glucocorticoid and androgen metabolite secretion and genital colouration in vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus)
  • Victor Olek, NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award 2017 (co-supervised  with Laura McKinnon)

PAST RESEARCH ASSISTANTS

  • Amanda Collins, undergraduate research assistant 2019: behavioural data entry for Nabugabo vervets.
  • Kat Zogorulko, undergraduate research assistant 2017-2019: extracting and organizing demographic information for Nabugabo vervets.
  • Dina Greenberg, undergraduate research assistant 2016-2018: behavioural data entry, error checking for Nabugabo vervets. Currently a Master’s student at McGill University in the Division of Medicine.

COMMUNITY NKIMA PROJECT

FIELD TEAM AT LAKE NABUGABO, UGANDA

Dr. Dennis Twinomugisha, Project Manager for the Nabugabo Research Site

Matovu

Mr. Matovu Ponsiano, Vervet Field Assistant, 2011-present: Matovu has worked with the monkey project since it was first started by Dr. Colin Chapman.  In that time, he has habituated three monkey groups (M group, KS group, and HC group). He has lots of knowledge of indigenous tree, bird, butterfly and frog species and is always happy to share that knowledge with others. He continues his good work with the project, collecting lots of data and helping many students along the way.

LivingstoneMr. Livingstone Katwere, Vervet Field Assistant, 2011-present: Livingstone has worked with the monkey project for many years now.  Together with Matovu, he has habituated three monkey groups, and contributed to the collection of scan data, behavioural data, fecal samples, photo data and lots more!  He likes to share his knowledge with others and is always available to help. He is always brightening up field work with his dry sense of humor!

Ms. Justine Namuyomba, Community & Vervet Field Assistant, 2019-present: Justine joined the Community Nkima Project in 2019, conducting human participant surveys on human-wildlife interaction and monitoring camera traps around small-scale sustenance agricultural plots and doing some data entry. In the summer of 2020, she transitioned to a vervet field assistant, collecting behavioural, hormone, and genetic data from the three study groups at Nabugabo.

FIELD TEAM AT LEWA-BORANA, KENYA

Mr. Vincent Karima, Community & Vervet Field Assistant, 2021 (August) – present

Mr. Kenneth Muriithi, Community & Vervet Field Assistant, 2021 (November) – present

PAST LAB MEMBERS

Mr. Hillary Tashobya, Vervet Field Assistant, 2016-2020 worked for the Nabugabo vervet research project from 2016-2019.  He is working as a field assistant doing scans, collecting behavioural data, and fecal sample collection.  He also has knowledge about many tree species, is a dedicated worker eager to learn new things, and has a great appreciation for the natural environment, which he shares with others through his sense of humour and infectious smile!

Ms. Halima Hassan, Community & Vervet Field Assistant, 2020-2021 joined the Community Nkima Project at Lewa in August 2020. Halima has a B.A. in Geography and Environmental Studies. She is passionate about environmental conservation and community empowerment, especially transforming young people into active citizens of their communities and society. In her community, she introduced an environmental group to foster environmental awareness, mentorship, and youth empowerment, especially for young girls. She has recently joined the Research Team at Lewa!

Mr. Kenneth Murithi, Community & Vervet Field Assistant, 2020-2021 was a founding team member of the Community Nkima Project at Lewa. Ken has a B.A. in Economics and Sociology, and since starting work on the project he has discovered a love of nature, conservation, and vervet monkeys! Ken is now working as the Community Liaison Officer at Lewa.

Mr. Lawrence Mutuma Riungu, Community & Vervet Field Assistant, 2020 assisted Ken Murithi with data collection at Lewa between April-July 2020, during which time he was a valuable helped on the Community Nkima Project at Lewa.

Dr. Aimee Oxley, postdoctoral visitor October 2019-February 2020: Dr. Oxley completed her PhD at Oxford Brookes University, UK on “Great ape conservation in the matrix: investigating the socio-ecological responses of chimpanzees living in a forest-farm mosaic, Uganda”. She spent a few weeks at the Nabugabo Research Site setting up camera-traps and learning the data collection protocols before implementing these at Lewa-Borana. Dr. Oxley returned to her home in the UK at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and has since been focusing on her chimpanzee research.

Kyle T. Hendrikson, 2017-2019




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