RACHNA BEERAVOLU REDDY portrait
  • Assistant Professor, Anthropology Department
  • Assistant Professor, Environmental & Sustainability
  • Research Associate, Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University
  • Co-Director, Ngogo Chimpanzee Project
  • Assistant Professor, Environmental & Sustainability

Research Summary

Through studies of our closest living relatives, I aim to uncover an evolutionary basis for the role that social relationships play in human life. I follow known individual chimpanzees and bonobos in the wild and track how their relationships form and contribute to learning, health, well-being, reproduction and survival as they grow up and grow old in changing environments. I am currently recruiting undergraduate researchers, PhD students and postdocs to launch my new research group.

Education

  • B.A., Evolutionary Anthropology, Duke University
  • PhD., Anthropology, University of Michigan

Biography

I am a biological anthropologist and primatologist and assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Utah. I also hold an appointment in the Environmental and Sustainability Studies Program. Prior to coming to the U, I held postdoctoral fellowships in Psychology and Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, where I remain a research associate, and at Duke University. I received my PhD in anthropology from the University of Michigan and my BA with Distinction in evolutionary anthropology from Duke University. 

My research aims to uncover an evolutionary basis for how and why social relationships shape human life. Through longitudinal studies of wild chimpanzees and bonobos - our closest living relatives - I examine how social relationships manifest, develop, and contribute to learning, status, health, survival, resilience and reproduction across the lifespan. I integrate approaches from developmental neuroscience and clinical psychology into my field research program with the goal of understanding how chimpanzees and bonobos learn and achieve well-being throughout development. My current research focuses on the tumultuous life stage of adolescence. 

 

My primary research takes place at Ngogo in Kibale National Park, Uganda where I have studied wild chimpanzees annually since 2013. I became a co-director of the Ngogo Chimpanzee Project in 2024. I have also studied wild bonobos in Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve in Democratic Repbublic of Congo. Alongside these field programs, I apply experimental approaches and broad comparative perspective to study the psychological mechanisms that underlie social relationships in humans and a range of other species.

My research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, The National Geographic Society, the L.S.B. Leakey Foundation, the Nacey-Maggioncalda Foundation, Harvard University, the University of Michigan, Duke University and the Duke Lemur Center.

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