UTSA anthropologist Joanna Lambert named fellow of national science group

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UTSA Professor Joanna Lambert (center) with colleagues in Uganda

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By Kris Rodriguez
Public Affairs Specialist

(Dec. 12, 2012) -- Joanna Lambert, professor in the UTSA Department of Anthropology, has been named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for her outstanding contributions in the field of primate feeding biology at evolutionary and ecological scales.

Lambert was one of 702 members worldwide selected for her scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science and its applications. She will receive an official certificate and a gold and blue rosette pin at a ceremony at the AAAS annual meeting in Boston on Feb. 16.

"I am very honored to be recognized at the national level by my scientific peers. The AAAS represents the largest scientific scholarly organization in the world," said Lambert.

For more than 20 years, Lambert has conducted research focused on the evolutionary and community ecology of primates, primarily in Kibale National Park in Uganda. Her studies have found that chimpanzees and an array of monkey species contribute an extremely high percentage of the seed dispersal in forests such as Kibale and elsewhere in equatorial Africa.

"A very high percentage of ape and monkey diet is comprised of fruit, so they are eating and dispersing thousands of seeds a day throughout the forest," Lambert said. "They are undoubtedly amongst the most important agents of forest regeneration in Kibale National Park and elsewhere in Africa."

Additionally, Lambert has been recognized for her research looking at the impacts of climate shifts on primate feeding adaptations with a goal of shedding light on the evolution of human and primate diet.

Lambert's love for Africa developed at an early age. She was eight years old when she read a book that described how leopards consume prey by pulling it into the trees to avoid conflicts with other larger carnivores.

The author of more than 100 books, journal articles and abstracts, Lambert us the handling editor for the journal Oecologia, academic editor for PLoS ONE, and associate editor of the Journal of Tropical Conservation Science. Previously, she was associate editor of the American Journal of Physical Anthropologyand associate editor of the American Journal of Primatology. In Washington, D.C., she was the director of the National Science Foundation Biological Anthropology program. She is the co-founder of the Northwest Primate Conservation Society and was an adviser to the United Nations Environmental Program on Great Ape Conservation.

Lambert's accolades include the Vilas Associate Professorship for Research at the University of Wisconsin. Madison, the R.A. Bray Faculty Fellowship for Excellence in Scholarship from the University of Oregon and the Emerald Professor of the Year, Oregon, in 2003.

She received her doctoral degree in biological anthropology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and her master's and bachelor's degrees in biology and anthropology from Northern Illinois University.

Established in 1848, AAAS is the world's largest general scientific society with membership of more than 10 million individuals and 261 affiliated societies and academies of science. The organization publishes Science, which has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world with an estimated readership of more than one million.