USC speaker to hold virtual chimpanzee talk for students hosted by College of Science


Maureen McCarthy and Jack Lester

Jamie Wyatt, Staff Reporter

A virtual science talk will be held on June 1 for the Science on Tap series, with guest speaker from University of Southern California (USC) Maureen McCarthy, doctor of integrative and evolutionary biology speaking about her undergraduate and doctoral research projects. 

Maureen McCarthy

McCarthy’s research projects  involved traveling to Uganda to study chimpanzee behavior as their habitat shrinks around them. 

McCarthy has ties to CWU and became an intern as a summer apprentice at the former Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute when it was still open. McCarthy also did her Master’s program at CWU. 

When asked about the Science on Tap series McCarthy said, “I have continued to be a fan of everything that CWU is doing in their science program and the primate behavior program.”

As part of McCarthy’s undergraduate and graduate research, she helped to collect data on chimpanzees in Uganda and chose to continue that research by studying the effects of the chimpanzees’ shrinking habitat and how it affects their behavior and survival. 

McCarthy plans to explore the topics surrounding chimpanzees’ endangered status and what can be done to combat the issues that keep chimpanzees in Uganda endangered. This includes the chimpanzees living in fragmented forest patches, conflict that arises from chimpanzees’ interactions with the human populations and what their future survival might look like.

Students can expect a Zoom meeting in which McCarthy gives her talk on her research, followed by a question and answer session afterward. The event is meant to bring awareness to the Ugandan chimpanzees’ plight in conversation with the continuing effects of climate change. 

“We hope to share work, to educate, and bring some topics that people don’t necessarily experience in their every day and to make it easy for them to sit back in a casual setting and learn and ask questions, and be exposed to something new,” Danna Boshak, graduate student of the primate behavior program said. 

Boshak was the one to bring in McCarthy for the webinar.

Science on Tap is a monthly series with new virtual talks every first Tuesday of the month, and the next one features McCarthy’s talk titled “Imperiled Next of Kin: Exploring Chimpanzee Behavioral Flexibility in a Human-Dominated Landscape of Uganda,” June 1 at 7 p.m. here

The Science on Tap series will be running throughout the summer, however, speakers have not yet been lined up at press time.