Anthropology Researcher Isn’t “Monkeying” Around

Anthropology Researcher Isn’t “Monkeying” Around

Kris Sabbi is an anthropology researcher who focuses specifically on evolutionary anthropology through the study of primates. She took time away from analyzing data collected on a recent fieldwork expedition, to speak with us about her amazing accomplishments.

Kris enrolled in college as a film student and planned to focus on documentary filmmaking; but because she was one of the last students to register for classes, she signed up for a primate behavior elective. This sparked her love for evolutionary anthropology, and she continued to take as many related courses as possible. Kris finished her undergraduate work with a degree in visual anthropology, which effectively combined her two passions.

While in college, Kris did not have the resources to go into the field for research, however, she was able to complete captive observational work by observing primates at a local zoo. After completing her undergraduate program, Kris fell in love with fieldwork and began saving money to travel so she could continue her studies. Kris is currently a Ph.D. candidate in anthropology at the University of New Mexico. She partnered with the Kibale Chimpanzee Project in southwestern Uganda to collect data for her study. The project studies sex differences among chimpanzees as they develop from infancy to age 11. Overarching questions for the study include, “What causes sex differences?” and “Are these sex differences caused by differences in experiences?”

For this study, Kris tracked 25 young chimps for six months per year over the course of many years. She collected a lot of amazing data while in the field; including hormonal data, gathered through urine samples, which measures testosterone and DHEAS levels. These samples were then sent to a lab for analysis. Kris also recorded observational data, she would track one specific chimp for a two-hour window, cycling through all 25 chimps she studied. At 15 minute intervals, she recorded all chimps present at that time; as well as all aggressive activity, nursing activity, and grooming activity. Finally, Kris videoed all instances of play between chimps, so she could later analyze sex differences in this activity. Now that Kris has returned from the field, she will spend countless hours analyzing the extensive data she has collected.

Kris truly loves spending time in the field. Her favorite aspects include spending extensive time outdoors and watching as the young chimps develop and grow. There are also difficult parts of the work, but Kris loves a challenge. Tracking chimps means hiking through difficult, uncharted terrain and encountering unexpected difficulties including swamps, elephants, and fire ants.

When in Uganda, Kris also takes time to give back to local communities. She noticed that most local children do not have the opportunity to go into the beautiful forest in their backyards. This inspired her to organize programs that take children outside to teach them about nature and photography. She also organizes screenings of nature documentaries for the community, which is something most locals do not have access to.

In her remaining spare time, Kris also writes a blog, which was originally created to help her stay connected to loved ones while in the field. Today, her blog has grown to include fieldwork stories, photojournalism, and popsci style writing. If you want to keep up with the amazing work she is doing check it out!

At Conseris, we love learning about the amazing fieldwork being done by dedicated researchers. Conseris is designed to support this type of work so researchers, like Kris, can collect data efficiently and securely bringing about positive results. Try a free 30-day trial today and see how Conseris can transform your methods.