Notre Dame, Duke team up for one of the longest-running primate studies in the world

Author: Brandi Wampler

ND Experts

Elizabeth Archie

Elizabeth Archie

Biological Sciences

Although the Fighting Irish and the Duke Blue Devils will compete on the football field Saturday (Sept. 30), the two universities partner on the Amboseli Baboon Research Project, a continuous baboon research study that allows for novel research into ecology and evolution.

Elizabeth Archie, professor of biology at the University of Notre Dame, was named co-director of the project in 2010 with Jenny Tung, director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, and Susan Alberts, dean of natural sciences at Duke University. Their leadership carries on the tradition of being a women-led collaboration.

The Amboseli Baboon Research Project has been ongoing since 1971 and is among the longest-running primate studies in the world, comparable to Jane Goodall’s field research on chimpanzees.

“We are so lucky to study these exceptional animals together with our partners in Kenya,” Archie said. “By working together, we have learned a lot about baboons, how they use their social connections to solve problems in their lives, and how baboons can shed light on fundamental problems in human health.”

The Amboseli Baboon Research Project studies the savannah baboon at the Amboseli National Park in East Africa where researchers monitor more than 300 animals. Since the project began, it has collected data on more than 2,000 baboons, allowing researchers to gather longitudinal data following multiple generations and publish more than 300 academic studies.

Archie’s research has touched on a wide range of topics including microbiome ecology, human-wildlife encounters and the health effects of early life adversity. Although her research looks at baboons, these studies often provide important insight into human evolution and behavior.

Some of the most recent studies from her lab include:

“The thing that makes the Amboseli baboon population unique is our ability to follow the lives of hundreds of individual, wild animals from ‘cradle to grave.’ By following their life stories, from the day they are born to the day they die, we can learn how their environments and interactions contribute to their successes and failures,” Archie said.

The Amboseli Baboon Research Project is a collaboration between Notre Dame, Duke, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and Princeton University. Research for the project is funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

Read more about Archie's research here.

Contact: Brandi Wampler, associate director, media relations, 574-631-2632,