The Primate Reproductive, Nutritional, and Behavioral Ecology and Conservation Lab is led by Professor Cheryl Knott. Professor Knott’s research focuses on orangutan behavior and biology, both as a way to further our understanding of endangered great apes and as a model for looking at human evolution. In addition to serving as the director and founder of the lab’s field site in Borneo, Indonesia, she also oversees the Gunung Palung Orangutan Project, one of the longest-running primate research centers in existence.

Currently, data collected from the Gunung Palung National Park are being used to understand how orangutan adaptations, such as two distinct adult male morphs and long intervals between births, are shaped by their ecology; as well as why orangutan juveniles grow so slowly and how they are impacted by changes in food availability. In her lab on campus, Professor Knott’s students work with reproductive and energetic hormones as well as the nutritional composition of wild orangutan foods. For more information about her current research, visit Professor Knott’s website.

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  • Observing Orangutans

    Dr. Knott examines the skeleton of a deceased orangutan to understand its life history. Photographed by Tim Laman.

  • Up In the Trees

    An adult male Bornean Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) named Jari Manis sits in the sleeping nest he has made in a small tree. Photographed by Tim Laman.

  • Taking Note

    Graduate student Amy Scott records her observations in the forests of Gunung Palung National Park.

  • Jari Manis

    An adult male Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus), eats ginger stems. Photographed by Tim Laman.

Location:  2 Cummington Mall, Room B57

PI: Professor Cheryl Knott, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Research Associate: Erin Kane, Ph.D.

Graduate Students:

  • Amy Scott
  • Andrea Blackburn
  • Faye Harwell
  • Laura Brubaker-Wittman
  • Zoe Albert

Undergraduate Research Assistants:

  • Victoria Zdanowicz
  • Ashvika Rao
  • Sofia Wyszynski
  • Justin Hsu
  • Caitlin Chin
  • Hannah Gorman
  • Morgana Haub
  • Jay Coogan