Emma Hallowell (Cornell University), spring 2015 alumna of SIT’s Ecuador: Comparative Ecology and Conservation program, met Dr. Jane Goodall at one of her lectures in Ontario, Canada. Jane Goodall (European Academy of Sciences) is one of the world’s most renowned primatologists and ethologists and is also a nature conservation advocate. Emma studied primates in the Ecuadorian Amazon for her Independent Study Project (ISP) during her semester abroad. Below, Emma shares a video she made during her time in Ecuador and answers a few of our questions.
SIT Study Abroad: Why did you choose to study on this program?
Emma: I chose the program because it offered the chance to study in a different language, travel the whole country, and complete individual research. No other program had such a crossover of cultural immersion and science.
SIT: Tell us a little about your ISP. Why did you choose that topic? What are some of the things you learned?
Emma: I spent most of my ISP period on Sumak Allpa Island, a rehabilitation center for monkeys. Here, I tracked woolly monkeys and recorded behavior, health concerns, and conditions of their environment. I then spent some time in the Coca Zoo recording the same parameters in their exhibited and quarantined woolly monkey troops. I used the comparison to make suggestions about how to keep woolly monkeys “happy” (less aggression, fewer stereotypic/repetitive movements) in captivity. I learned how much work and time has to be put into a project in order to understand a species. I also learned how well monkeys can blend into the forest, as I walked past them many times without even noticing.
SIT: Tell us about meeting Dr. Goodall. How did that happen? What was that like?
Emma: Jane Goodall travels the world, giving speeches to many people in an effort to spread the word about climate change and conservation concerns. Meeting Jane Goodall herself was an absolute honor. I geeked out and greeted her the way lemurs greet each other. She started off her speech with a chimpanzee greeting, so I figured it would be something different than the normal “Hi, nice to meet you.” I’ve spent the last two summers with lemurs and recently taught them to paint. She is one hardworking woman, and she met with over 300 people that night, so I understandably did not have much time with her. However, there were a bunch of other amazing people, such as the painter Robert Bateman and the documentary filmmaker Patricia Simms, both of whom were very nice and receptive.