Lab members & 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 am looking for only 1 PhD student, and possibly one MSc student, for September 2021. 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“.



Simon L'Allier

Simon L’Allier, MSc student 2018-2020: Simon is interested in the proximate factors that lead to dispersal in male primates. His thesis will focus on male vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) at Lake Nabugabo, Uganda,  where he will examine behaviour and dominance status before and after dispersal. He graduated with a B.Sc. in Anthropology at the University of Montreal in 2018.

MARTINS_Melissa_website photoMelissa Martins, MSc student 2019-2021: 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, and is excited to study primates in the wild!

KarinKarin Snyder, MSc student 2018-2020: Karin is broadly interested in primate endocrinology, sexual signaling and dominance. She will assess whether fecal androgen and glucocorticoid metabolite levels are associated with male dominance rank, and whether rank and hormone primate are useful predictors of genital coloration in wild vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) at the Nabugabo Vervet Project in southwestern Uganda. Karin received her B.Sc. in Environmental Biology from MacEwan University in Edmonton in 2016 and since then has been working alongside researchers as an assistant.

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.


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 ?”. She has recently travelled to Australia and is excited see the wildilfe East Africa has to offer!





Amanda Collins, research assistant 2017-present: Amanda is an undergraduate student (BSc in Biology at York’s Glendon College) who has been working on entering behavioural data for our three vervet study groups.


Megan Schwegel, NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award 2018 & 2020 and research assistant summer 2019: 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!


Kat Zogorulko, research assistant 2017-present: Kat is an undergraduate student (BSc in Biology at York’s Glendon College) who has been working on extracting and organizing demographic information for our three vervet study groups. She spent Summer 2018 doing an internship in Costa Rica, helping with a range of projects in tropical ecology.




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


Mr. Matovu Ponsiano, Field Assistant: Matovu has worked with the monkey project for eleven years.  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 is still working with the project, collecting lots of data and helping many students along the way.


LivingstoneMr. Livingstone Katwere, Field Assistant: Livingstone has worked with the monkey project for seven years.  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 sense of dry humor!



HillaryMr. Hillary Tashobya, Field Assistant: Hillary has been working for the monkey research project since 2016.  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 humor and infectious smile!



Ms. Justine Namuyomba, Community Field Assistant: 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.


Ken Murithi photoMr. Kenneth Murithi is 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 hopes to do a Master’s in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University in the near future.



Halima Hassan photoMs. Halima Hassan 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.



Mr. Lawrence Mutuma Riungu 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.

Dina Greenberg,  research assistant 2016-2019, NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award 2019: Dina started off as a volunteer research assistant processing hormone samples from Solid Phase Extraction cartridges collected from vervets. In April 2019, she successfully defended her undergraduate Honours thesis hormonal correlated of genital coloration in vervet monkeys. She received a 2019 Undergraduate Summer Research Award from NSERC, which will allow her to continue her research and publish her findings. For the past two summers (2017, 2018), she has worked in Dr. Valerius’ lab at the Brigham Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School doing research on the development of tools suited for human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) lines and organoids. Dina is now a Master’s student in the Department of Experimental Medicine, McGill University.

Victor Olek, NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award 2017 (co-supervised  with Laura McKinnon)

Kyle T. Hendrikson, 2017-2019



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