Research Affiliates

paco bertolani

Dr Paco Bertolani

I am a Research Affiliate at the Institute for Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology. Biologist, field primatologist and anthropologist, I am interested in primate behavioural ecology and primate cognition, and the implications that comparative studies of primate behaviour have for understanding aspects of hominin evolution. I have an extensive field experience, having observed wild chimpanzees and bonobos for many years, in different environments, at various field sites across Africa: Ivory Coast, Senegal, Uganda, Tanzania; and bonobos at two sites, Lomami and Lomako, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Dr. Lydia V. Luncz

Dr Lydia V. Luncz

I was a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow and joined the Primate Models for Behavioural Evolution Lab at the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology from May 2017 to May 2020. My research explores the evolution of material culture in primates. I am using archaeological methods to compare the development of percussive technologies in wild primate species, including bearded capuchin monkeys in Brazil, long-tailed macaques in Thailand and western chimpanzees in Ivory Coast. My current project aims to identify the earliest human wooden tools, by evaluating universal characteristics of percussive wooden tools and the archaeological evidence they leave in the environment of our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees. My research takes a comparative approach to further investigate the evolution of technology in humans, our ancestors and non-human primates alike. I accepted a permanent position as a Lise Meitner Fellow to start my own research group at the Max Planck Institute, Leipzig, where I will be based from May 1 (2020) onwards. I remain a collaborator of the Primate Models for Behavioural Evolution Lab.

You can see more on my page.

rene gorongosa

Dr René Bobe

I am a Research Affiliate at the Institute of Cognitive & Evolutionary Anthropology at Oxford, and a professor at the University of Chile. I study the evolution of African mammals and the ecology of early hominins. I have ongoing projects in Mozambique, Kenya, Ethiopia and Chile.

Tina Lüdecke, Research Affiliate of the Primate Models for Behavioural Evolution Lab

Dr Tina Lüdecke

I am a geochemist based at the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre in Frankfurt and a Research Affiliate at the Institute of Cognitive & Evolutionary Anthropology at Oxford. I focus my research on the development of habitats early hominins thrived in with a focus on East African savannas. Currently, I am involved in projects in Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Turkey and Indonesia. In Gorongosa, my studies are based on stable and clumped isotopes as a tool to reconstruct patterns in the paleoenvironment such as vegetation, rainfall or temperature.

photo mielke

Dr Alexander Mielke

My research concerns the evolution of cognitive abilities involved in primate cooperation and communication. My PhD was focused on understanding the differences in the social systems of sooty mangabeys and Western chimpanzees in the Tai Forest in Ivory Coast, with special focus on grooming as a way for primates to make friends and protect their friendships. I also conducted snake experiments with mangabeys to understand the mechanisms underlying cooperation in species with large but coherent social groups. Afterwards, I developed statistical analyses tools based on network analysis for facial expression data in humans and nonhuman primates as part of the NetFACS project at the University of Portsmouth. As a Newton International Fellow, funded by the British Academy, at the University of Oxford, I developed a project entitled ‘Monkeying around: Complexity, cognition, and culture in chimpanzee play’. Currently, I am a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, affiliated with the Wild Minds Lab at the University of St Andrews, studying syntactical structures in wild ape gesture sequences.


Twitter: @MielkeAlexander

Alejandra Pascual-Garrido photographed in the forest conducting fieldwork and posing with an example of chimpanzee perishable technology

Dr Alejandra Pascual-Garrido


I am a field-based primatologist interested in the evolution, maintenance, and population-specific variation of plant-based material cultures among wild chimpanzees. While also observing chimpanzees directly, I use archaeological methods to reconstruct past behaviour from localities where tools were previously employed – via markers on source plants, abandoned implements or tool use sites. In September 2021, I joined the Anthropology Department of Durham University as a Lecturer in Evolutionary Anthropology. I held a postdoctoral position at the Primate Models for Behavioural Evolution Lab between April 2020 and May 2021, and I remain a research affiliate at the Institute of Human Sciences, University of Oxford, where I work together with members of the Primate Models for Behavioural Evolution Lab. My current project, funded by The Leakey Foundation, investigates the archaeological signatures of plant-based tools used by wild chimpanzees living in west Tanzania. Such ‘archaeology of the perishable’ may allow us to make important inferences about early humans. Currently, our perception of the evolutionary trajectories of human material culture is heavily skewed towards lithic technology – because stones are more durable, but also, because we know little about archaeological signatures that plant-based artefacts may leave in the environment.

ORCID: 0000-0002-1903-6236
Twitter: @RunnerApe


Dr Thomas Püschel pictured alongside fossils at at the Nairobi National Museum in Kenya, where he studied comparative collections and scanned material for comparison

Dr Thomas Püschel

I am a palaeoprimatologist and vertebrate palaeobiologist mainly focused on primate and mammalian evolution. My main interest is to study organismal evolution by reconstructing and comparing the palaeobiology of fossils to their living ecological relatives. In order to do this, I apply a combination of predictive modelling, 3D morphometrics, virtual biomechanical techniques, computational simulations, phylogenetic comparative methods, and fieldwork. In May 2021, I joined the Venditti group as a Postdoctoral Researcher within the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Division of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Reading, under the framework of the Leverhulme project: ‘The evolutionary and biogeographical routes to hominin diversity’. I held a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at the Primate Models for Behavioural Evolution Lab from October 2018 to May 2021 and I remain a Research Affiliate at the Institute of Human Sciences, University of Oxford, where I work together with the Paleo-Primate Project Gorongosa, Mozambique.




Portrait image of Daniel Schofield

Dr Daniel Schofield

I am a Research Affiliate and former student with the Primate Models for Behavioural Evolution lab, supervised by Prof. Susana Carvalho (Anthropology) and Prof. Dora Biro (Zoology). For my PhD I was funded by a Clarendon Scholarship and pioneered a computational framework for analysing long-term video datasets for wild primates, applying Visual AI to analyse social networks of chimpanzees from Bossou, Guinea, in collaboration with Oxford’s Visual Geometry Group (VGG) and Kyoto University’s Primate Research Institute, Japan.

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