Primate behavioral researcher will speak at Centenary April 19

SHREVEPORT, LA — Dr. Lydia Hopper, assistant director of the Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, will deliver a research presentation at Centenary College on Thursday, April 19 at 11:10 a.m. in Kilpatrick Auditorium. The presentation is sponsored by Centenary’s Trek program and the psychology department and is free and open to the public.

Hopper has been an active partner in a collaboration between the Lincoln Park Zoo and Shreveport’s Chimp Haven chimpanzee sanctuary. The two institutions are sharing expertise in learning programs, animal care, and even infrastructure in a partnership that provides a new model for zoo-sanctuary collaborations while improving the lives of chimpanzees. Centenary students enrolled in the May immersion course at Chimp Haven have been able to learn from Hopper for several years.

“Dr. Hopper is a popular speaker with engagements at universities across the country, so we’re really fortunate to have her speak,” says Dr. Jeanne Hamming, professor of English and director of the Trek program. “I often tell my students that one of the most important attributes of a person educated in the liberal arts is a “scout mindset,” the willingness and curiosity to ask questions and seek answers. I can think of no better scholar to model this mindset than Dr. Hopper.”

Hopper will share insights from her research on primate social cognition, exploring how both human and non-human primates seek out new knowledge and innovate to solve problems in ways influenced by their social world. At the Fisher Center, Hopper designs and coordinates “in-house” behavioral and cognitive research with resident chimpanzees and gorillas. She has worked with a number of different primate species and is particularly interested in observing the methods primates use to learn new skills.

Hopper earned a B.S. in psychology and zoology from the University of Liverpool and a Ph.D. from the University of St. Andrews. In addition to her work at the zoo, she teaches at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois and is an honorary research fellow at the University of Birmingham, UK.


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