Primate research earns top award for U professor

Jerret Raffety

Anne Pusey, director of the University’s Jane Goodall Institute’s Center for Primate Studies, was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences last week.

The awards are for leaders in scholarship, business, arts and public affairs.

“I am excited and very honored to receive this award,” Pusey wrote in an e-mail.

The award is based on the body of Pusey’s research on primate behavior during her scientific career.

This is one of the most prestigious awards she has ever won, she wrote.

Her work has already left an impression on her colleagues, they said.

“She didn’t just look at (the chimpanzees) as a bunch of large, hairy apes straight out of the pages of some nature magazine,” said Craig Packer, a professor in the ecology, evolution and behavior department. “She knew them as characters in a long-term saga; individuals with personality quirks, family resemblances, personal grudges.”

Others are struck by Pusey’s commitment to academics.

Joann Schumacher-Stankey, the center’s research administrator, gave her colleague acclaim.

“I have always been impressed with the way she manages the balancing act between her teaching Ö and her responsibilities as director of primate research for the Jane Goodall Institute worldwide,” Schumacher-Stankey said.

Pusey’s approachability and professionalism help her work with students and staff members, Schumacher-Stankey said.

Pusey worked with Jane Goodall while studying chimpanzees’ mother-infant relations in Gombe National Park in Tanzania. Goodall is an internationally recognized primatologist known for her studies of primates in Africa.

Pusey later attended Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., and joined the University of Minnesota’s faculty in 1983.

She works in the University of Minnesota’s College of Biological Sciences. In 1990, she began to analyze Goodall’s field data and preserve her journals and photos.

Pusey’s work was used to establish the center at the University of Minnesota in 1995.

Pusey continues to work with primates today.

“With 44 years of data, we are now able to see general patterns of chimpanzee behavior,” Pusey wrote.

Goodall named Pusey executive director of research for the Jane Goodall Institute worldwide in 2003.