UC Davis Anthropologist Named President-elect of the American Society of Primatologists

Photo of Isbell conducting research in the field
Lynne Isbell, observing a patas monkey in Kenya, will become president of the American Society of Primatologists in 2020.

UC Davis anthropologist Lynne Isbell, who studies the behavior, ecology and evolutionary history of primates, is the new president-elect of the American Society of Primatologists (ASP).

Isbell, professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology in the College of Letters and Science, assumed the elected position during the society’s Aug. 8-11 meeting in San Antonio, Texas. After serving a two-year term, she will become ASP president in August 2020.

The nonprofit society, which has close to 400 members, aims to promote and encourage the discovery and exchange of information regarding primates, and is open to anyone engaged in scientific primatology or interested in supporting those goals.

Developed theory of snakes' impacts on primate evolution

Isbell was elected a California Academy of Sciences fellow in 2015. Her book, The Fruit, the Tree, and the Serpent: Why We See So Well, received the 2014 W.W. Howells Book Prize from the American Anthropological Association for best book in biological anthropology.

A UC Davis faculty member since 1996, she is also an Aggie alumna — she earned her doctorate in animal behavior in 1990.

Her research focuses on primate behavior and ecology, particularly food competition, ranging behavior, predation and dispersal. She also investigates visual neuroscience as it relates to primate evolution, and primate interactions with species as diverse as ants, snakes, and leopards.

Isbell is the second UC Davis faculty member to enter the ASP’s leadership circle in the past eight years. Karen Bales, a professor with the Department of Psychology and the California National Primate Research Center at UC Davis, was president-elect in 2010-12 and president in 2012-14, and is the current editor of the society’s American Journal of Primatology.

— Kathleen Holder, content strategist in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science