Educational background

My educational background is a bit diverse and includes degrees in Ethology (the scientific study of animal behavior), German and Research Psychology. Rigorous experimental design was a dominant focus of my graduate work. My Masters thesis and doctoral dissertation investigated different aspects of the use of American Sign Language in cross-fostered chimpanzees.


At YVCC, I typically teach introductory psychology and child development. I have also taught in many learning communities with faculty in the Biology and English departments, and enjoy team-teaching special topics, such as the Salem Witch Trials. In addition to teaching, I continue to conduct research and present findings at conferences. My research interests build on past research conducted by Drs. Allen and Trixie Gardner. The Gardners were interested in continuities between animal and human intelligence. They raised young chimpanzees as human children and investigated the effects of these cross-fostering conditions on development. They were also interested in the relationship between social and intellectual development and its expression in language and other forms of communication.

A few years ago students assisted me in studying various aspects of pointing gestures. Students and I presented this research at regional and international conferences. The coding system developed for describing adult human pointing and the method for transcribing gaze direction will be useful in further studies of both infant and adult chimpanzees, and infant and adult humans.

I am also currently working with Allen Gardner using his early data on the cross-fostered chimpanzees. YVC students have been actively assisting in this research, and will be presenting our current research at a regional conference in Spring 2017.

To any student wishing to assist with either of these research projects: Please feel free to contact me: