November 26, 2013

Expert to discuss chimpanzee communication

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Mary Lee Jensvold has had conversations with chimpanzees. And she’s coming to Southern Illinois University Carbondale to discuss the correlation with how humans view the natural world.

Jensvold, director of the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute at Central Washington University, will deliver a lecture “Conversations with Chimpanzees: Transforming our View of Nature,” at 7 p.m. Dec. 6. The lecture in Morris Library’s John C. Guyon Auditorium is free and open to the public.

Jensvold is an associate professor in the university’s Department of Anthropology and Museum Studies and the primate behavior and ecology program. Her interests and expertise involve chimpanzee sign language studies; ape behavior, communication and culture, chimpanzee care and enrichment, and non-verbal behavior.

The Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute promotes conservation and argues for recognizable primate intellect. Two chimpanzees that are part of the institute are proficient in American Sign Language. Jensvold has been working with them since 1986 to learn more about animal intelligence and communication.

The SIU chapter of Sigma Xi, a national scientific research society, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, and the SIU Graduate School are event sponsors, along with assistance from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.