Our research group is based in the School of Psychology and Neuroscience, at the University of St Andrews, in Scotland. Our research on great ape gesture spans all great ape species – chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, orang-utans, and humans – and has been conducted both in captivity and through long-term field studies in the wild. We want to understand how other great apes use their gestures and other forms of communication, as a way of getting at the evolution of human language. Here’s a bit more about our research team…

Principal Investigators

 

Catherine Hobaiter 

Cat is a lecturer at the University of St Andrews. She studies the evolution of communication and social behaviour in wild apes. Her work on gesture focuses on wild chimpanzees in Budongo, Uganda and Bossou, Guinea. You can find Cat’s list of publications here.

 

Richard Byrne

Dick is a professor at the University of St Andrews. He studies communication and cognition across numerous taxa, including work on gestural communication of great apes. You can find Dick’s publications here.

Current Researchers & Students

 

Adrian Soldati

Adrian is a graduate research assistant at Budongo, Uganda. His ongoing research includes chimpanzee vocalisations, multi-signal and multi-modal communication, and the social aspect of communication. More here.

 

Collaborators

 

Joanne Tanner

Joanne completed her PhD at St Andrews in 1998, studying the untaught gestural communication of gorillas at San Francisco Zoo. Joanne continues to research and write as an independent researcher. More about Joanne here.

 

Erica Cartmill

Erica is an assistant professor at UCLA. She studies the role of gesture in language evolution and acquisition. Her lab conducts research on both human children and non-human great apes (orangutans and chimpanzees). More here.

 

Emilie Genty

Emilie is currently studying joint action coordination in chimpanzees, bonobos, and human children, focusing on communicative signals (gestures, vocalisations, and other visual signals). Emilie’s research here & photography here.

 

Lisa Orr

Lisa studied the gestural communication of captive bonobos at the Milwaukee Zoo, 2011-2012.  She is currently living in Portland, Oregon, working as a data scientist at Urban Airship. Find out more about Lisa’s work here.

 

Brittany Fallon

Brittany completed her PhD at St Andrews in 2016, studying gesture in chimpanzee sexual displays. She is currently looking at facial expression use in American Sign Language and parallels with chimpanzee facial expression. More here.

 

Kirsty Graham 

Kirsty completed her PhD at the University of St Andrews in 2016. She studies the gestures of wild bonobos at Wamba, DRCongo. You can find Kirsty’s publications here.