I grew up in the suburbs of Washington DC where my family instilled in me a love of nature and sent me to schools that fostered my curiosity about wildlife. As a result of this exposure, I knew early in life I wanted to contribute to protecting the natural world.
I fed my interest in studying wildlife at Harvard as an undergraduate. I studied cooperation in humans’ closest living relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos, as well as the development of cooperative behaviors in human populations around the world. As such, I straddled my studies between the Psychology Department and Human Evolutionary Biology Department, completing an honors thesis project advised by faculty in both departments.
After graduating from Harvard, I completed my PhD in the Evolutionary Anthropology Department at Duke University. I am currently a postdoctoral fellow at Duke in the Hominoid Psychology Research Group, led by Professor Brian Hare. Through Dr. Hare’s lab, I have worked closely with Lola Ya Bonobo, a sanctuary for rescued orphaned bonobos in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the communities surrounding the sanctuary. I developed an interdisciplinary interest in applying our understanding of the evolution and development of human social cognition to solving issues in wildlife conservation. This emerging field is known as conservation psychology.
In addition to working with Lola Ya Bonobo, I’ve also worked closely with the North Carolina Zoo and Zoo Atlanta. My partnership at Zoo Atlanta has led to my own on-site research program dedicated to studying conservation psychology.
Apart from research, I enjoy exploring Durham North Carolina, both in the city and the beautiful surrounding natural forests and trails. I also raise and train service dogs for Canine Companions for Independence. Follow @peek.a.bowie on Instagram to see the adventures of the current puppy I’m raising and training!