Sonoma State University Primate Ethology Research (SSUPER) Lab

Dr. Karin Enstam Jaffe, Director

What is the SSUPER Lab?

The SSUPER Lab focuses on ethological (i.e., behavioral) research of non-human primates and other mammals and strives to involve Sonoma State graduate and underdgraduate students in a variety of (primate) behavior (i.e., ethology) research projects. Currently, research projects being conducted in the SSUPER Lab are divided into two broad categories: the Applied Primate Ethology (A.P.E.) Research Program and independent research projects.

Affiliated Institutions: Safari West, The San Francisco Zoo

What are the requirements for joining the SSUPER Lab?

1. You must be a matriculated SSU student with a 3.0 cumulative GPA

2. I must have a research project for you to work on

3. You must have your own vehicle and be willing and able to drive to and from an off-campus research site

4. You must be willing and able to dedicate 45 hours/semester for each unit of Anthropology 495 (excluding drive time)

5. I require a 1 semester commitment, but am interested in students who can commit to the lab for a year

6. I will work with students in any major, but all lab members must sign up for Anthropology 495 units. If you are not an Anthropology major, it is your responsibility to get your Anthropology 495 units to count toward your major by filling out a Major Minor Course Substitution Form with your academic advisor. If you are not an Anthropology major, and you want your research to fulfill a requirement for your major, you must get the project approved by your advisor before signing up for Anthropology 495 units with me.

Will I get academic credit for working with SSUPER?

Yes! Depending on the number of hours you want to work, you can get 1-3 units of research credit, in the form of Anthropology 495 (special studies) units if you are an undergraduate. If you are a graduate student, you will receive Anthropology 595 or Biology 595 units.

What are current and past SSUPER Lab projects?

Applied Primate Ethology (A.P.E. Research Program)

The Applied Primatology Research Program applies behavioral observation methodology to study captive primates (and other animals) in order to help local captive facilities scientifically answer questions and address problems they encounter with the animals they house.

Current A.P.E. projects


Social interactions of mandrills at the San Francisco Zoo (October 2013-Present)

Research conducted by Annamarie McPeck
(photo courtesy of Steve Litke)

Independent Research Projects:



Proximate and ultimate level effects of cross-fostering in African antelope at Safari West (August 2013-Present)

Research conducted by Adriana Lopez, Gini Michels and Nicole Tillquist
(photo courtesy of Sandy Destiny)


Independent Research Projects:



Hair-plucking by mandrills at the San Francisco Zoo (November 2012-Present)

Research conducted by Andrew McCrory
(photo © Marianne Hale via


Independent Research Projects:
Past A.P.E. projects


Enclosure use by a pair of black-and-white colobus monkeys at the San Francisco Zoo (August-December 2013)

Research conducted by Gini Michels
(photo courtesy



Male-male aggression in captive patas monkeys at Safari West (November 2012-December 2013)

Research conducted by Anthony Aliamus
(photo courtsey of Karin Jaffe)



Mating behavior in captive cheetahs at Safari West (November 2012-December 2013)

Research conducted by Gillian King-Bailey
(Photo © Lindsay via

Independent Research Projects:



Aggression, affiliation and enclosure use in an all-male group of squirrel monkeys at the San Francisco Zoo (June 2010-Present)

Research conducted by Bibi Rahmizada, Natalie Hambalek, and Marcia Brown
(photo courtesy of Marcia Brown)

Independent Research Projects:



Understanding the triggers of hyper-aggressive behavior in female green monkeys (Cercopithecus sabaeus) at the Oakland Zoo (March-October 2007)

Research conducted by Shannon Hodges & Bonnie Lowery
(photo courtesy of Shannon Hodges)

Independent Research Projects:
Independent Research Projects

Independent research projects are either conducted by Sonoma State students as the primary investigator, or include students as research assistants on larger projects overseen by Dr. Jaffe. Some examples of independent research are:

Primate Faces


The Primate Faces Project is using SSU students to examine the individuality and ease of recognition of non-human primate faces(June 2010-May 2012)

Primary investigators: Dr. Lynne A. Isbell (UC Davis) & Dr. Karin E. Jaffe (SSU) Research assistants: Marcia Brown & Carena Gilbert



Influence of changes in group dynamics on the mating and social behavior of captive mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx) at the San Francisco Zoo (February 2008-May 2010)

Research conducted by Maria Brown
(photo courtesy of Marcia Brown)



The Effects of Stimuli on the Behaivor of a Captive Group of Ring-Tailed Lemur (Lemur catta) (January-July 2008)

Research conducted by Brieanna Richards
(photo courtesy of Brieanna Richards)