• Title Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Biology;
    Affiliated Faculty, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
  • Education PhD, New York University
  • Web Address http://www.evopropinquitous.net/
  • Phone 617-353-5026
  • Area of Interest primate growth and development, ontogeny and etiology of obesity, population and functional genomics, quantitative genetics, primate behavioral ecology and life history
  • CV

Current Research

Our research focuses on development and life history in wild primates as they relate to metabolic adaptations to environmental extremes, and incorporate techniques from genetics/genomics, behavioral ecology, and morphology across the Order Primates, and in savanna monkeys (Chlorocebus spp.) and ateline primates, in particular.

Through intensive fieldwork across Africa and the Caribbean with the International Vervet Research Consortium, we have collected biological samples from over two thousand wild vervet monkeys. Current projects in our lab using this dataset include characterizing evolutionary patterns in the developmental morphometrics and physiology of various savanna monkey populations, including the use of population and comparative genomic techniques. We also investigate the links between diet, genomic and epigenomic variation, and metabolic function during development in over 700 fully sequenced and pedigreed captive savanna monkeys at Wake Forest University. Work in our lab is ongoing to assess the phenotypic impacts of captive-identified obesity-related genes in our extensive wild sample, and variability in phenotype expression and population-specific selection based on local ecology and anthropogenic impacts. Field work for these projects is ongoing in South Africa (UROP students are welcome to apply) with collaborators at North West University in Potchefstroom, and can be followed on social media at #BUvervets.

Our interest in metabolic function also extends to high altitude adaptation and conservation genomics in ateline primates, particularly the Critically Endangered Peruvian yellow-tailed woolly monkey (Lagothrix flavicauda). We are currently conducting the first population genomic assessment of the yellow-tailed woolly monkey using portable genomics technologies, and are in the process of developing a de novo reference genome for the species in collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Lab at Los Amigos Biological Station (genomics in the jungle!) and Peruvian conservation NGO Yunkawasi Perú. We also conduct more traditional conservation-oriented fieldwork with yellow-tailed woolly monkeys, including population surveys in collaboration with NGO Neotropical Primate Conservation, and behavioral ecology work with La Asociación de Conservación Oso Dorado in the protected area Hierba Buena/Allpayacu.

Selected Publications

  • Zarate M.A., S. Shanee, E. Charpentier, Y. Sarmiento, and C.A. Schmitt (2023). Expanded distribution and predicted suitable habitat for the Critically Endangered yellow-tailed woolly monkey (Lagothrix flavicauda) in Peru. American Journal of Primatology 85:e23464.
  • Gagnon C.M., H. Svardal, A.J. Jasinska, J.D. Cramer, N.B. Freimer, J.P. Grobler, T.R. Turner, and C.A. Schmitt (2022). Evidence of selection in UCP1 gene region suggests local adaptation to irradiance rather than cold temperatures in savanna monkeys (Chlorocebus spp.). Proc Royal Soc B 289:20221254.
  • Schmitt C.A., C.M. Bergey, A.J. Jasinska, V. Ramensky, F. Burt, H. Svardal, M.J.J. Jorgensen, N.B. Freimer, J.P. Grobler, and T.R. Truner (2020). ACE2 and TMPRSS2 receptor variation in savanna monkeys (Chlorocebus spp.): Potential risk for zoonotic/anthroponotic transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and a potential model for functional studies. PLoS ONE 15:e0235106.
  • McHugh S.M., F.M. Cornejo, J. McKibben, M. Zarate, C. Tello, C.F. Jiménez, and C.A. Schmitt (2020). First detection of the Peruvian yellow-tailed woolly monkey (Lagothrix flavicauda) in the Región Junín, Peru. Oryx 54:814-818.
  • Savanna Monkeys: The Genus Chlorocebus. (2019) Editors: Turner TR, Schmitt CA, Cramer JD. Cambridge University Press.
  • Schmitt CA, Service S, Cantor RM, Jasinska AJ, Jorgensen MJ, Kaplan JR, and
    Freimer NB (2018) High heritability of obesity and obesogenic growth are both highly heritable and modified by diet in a nonhuman primate model, the African green monkey (Chlorocebus aethiops sabaeus). International Journal of Obesity 42:765-774.
  • Turner TR, Schmitt CA, Cramer JD, Lorenz J, Grobler JP, Jolly CJ, and Freimer NB (2018) Morphological variation in the genus Chlorocebus: Ecogeographic and anthropogenically mediated variation in body mass, postcranial morphology, and growth. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 166:682-707.
  • Hlusko LJ, Schmitt CA, Monson T, Brasil M and Mahaney MC (2016) The integration of quantitative genetics, paleontology, and neontology reveals genetic underpinnings of primate dental evolution. PNAS 113:9262-9267.
  • Jasinska AJ, Schmitt CA, Service SK, Cantor RM, Dewar K, Jentsch DJ, Kaplan JR,
    Turner TR, Warren WC, Weinstock, GM, Woods RP, Freimer NB (2013) Systems biology of the vervet monkey. ILAR / Natl Res Council 54:122-143.

Courses Taught:

  • AN 102 Human Behavioral Biology and Evolution
  • AN/WS 233 Evolutionary Biology of Human Variation
  • WS 101 Gender and Sexuality: An Interdisciplinary Introduction
  • AN/BI 333/733 Human Population Biology
  • AN/BI 336/736 Primate Evolutionary Ecology
  • AN 551 Human Evolutionary Genetics
  • AN/BI 588 Project Design and Statistics in Biological Anthropology

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