We Rep STEM aims to promote the work of inspiring people in the STEM community. Today, we’re featuring Kristen Morrow, a Ph.D. student at the University of Georgia.

Kristen studies primate conservation in Indonesia.

Read on to learn more about Kristen and what her work entails, in her own words.

My name is Kristen Morrow and I am a Ph.D. student at the University of Georgia. I study primate conservation in Indonesia by bringing together methods from anthropology, ecology, and animal behavior. The goal of this work is to understand how humans and wildlife can coexist on a shared planet and to identify equitable solutions to conservation challenges. 

I’ve always loved animals and am fascinated by understanding how they experience and think about the world. As an anthropologist, I’m interested in people’s experiences of the world. Through my conservation research, I have the opportunity to study both! 

My research examines people’s participation in conservation and views on wildlife and how primates respond to human activity by changing their behavior and their use of a landscape. Conservation issues always involve complex social and ecological issues. By using interdisciplinary research methods I hope to better understand some of this complexity and be able to contribute to conservation problem-solving.

Quick facts about primate conservation

1) About 60% of primate species are threatened with extinction due to deforestation, hunting, illegal wildlife trade, and climate change.

2) Primates play an important ecological role in forest regeneration by dispersing digested fruit seeds throughout the forest. As primate populations shrink there can be changes in forest fruit abundance, which can have cascading effects on other organisms.

3 )Primates are always noticing what’s happening in their environment! In response to human activity, primates can change their movement patterns, diet, and communication to avoid risky encounters with people.

4) Much of the deforestation that’s driving primate conservation issues are linked to industrial agriculture, which produces products we consume daily. You can help support primate conservation by purchasing sustainably-sourced and certified sustainable products.

5) Although humans are the major driver of primate conservation issues, humans and primates have long coexisted! Paleological and archaeological evidence show that for millennia human and primate species have lived in the same landscape. What’s changed in the current era is the scale and rate of human-caused environmental change—this is the challenge we have to address today. 

You can read more about my work by visiting my website or get in touch via Twitter (@Kristen_Morrow_) or Instagram (@alsoaprimate).

If you’d like to have your work featured on We Rep STEM, get in touch! We can be reached via email at werepstem@gmail.com.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Minor grammatical edits were made to the original text.

Photo courtesy of Kristen Morrow.