Roehampton primatologist alumna featured in The Guardian

  • Sunday, April 8, 2018

Carolyn Thompson, a Roehampton postgraduate and primatologist is featured in The Guardian in an article about her career path after graduation.

Carolyn studied at the University of Roehampton undertaking an MRes Primate Biology, Behaviour and Conservation. She is currently working on her PhD on gibbons (small apes) at University College London and the Institute of Zoology. Carolyn previously managed a project on gibbons for two years in Indonesia with the Borneo Nature Foundation where her idea for the project originated from.

Carolyn explains her project, ‘Nineteen of the twenty known gibbon species are on the brink of extinction, so I am very keen to work with these apes. My PhD research is investigating the relationship between humans and gibbons. I am focusing on two species: the Hainan gibbon, the rarest primate in the world with about twenty-five individuals; and the newly discovered Skywalker Hoolock gibbon with about 200 individuals found in an isolated forest on the border between China and Myanmar. I’ll be assessing the main drivers of gibbon decline that we have witnessed across Asia’

She will be travelling to field sites in China during April to plan her research which will include interviews and questionnaires to conduct a comparative community-based study to investigating local community resource use, and values and attitudes towards gibbons, the environment and conservation management.

On her time at Roehampton Carolyn said ‘I had so much support from the lecturers. My supervisor, Dr Caroline Ross, recognised my strengths and weaknesses. She tailored her supervision to fit my style of learning. Six years after finishing my masters, I still meet with some of my supervisors and they continue to help me with my research’

Carolyn has worked with all types of primates including chimpanzees, cross river gorillas, ring-tailed lemurs, savannah baboons, bornean orangutans, and red leaf monkeys.

On advice to students, Carolyn said ‘I would encourage students to be open to new opportunities and study a range of different species rather than only one. This will add to your knowledge and help make you more employable. There are many organisations that offer internships. If you network at university seminars and conferences, you can make new connections and find opportunities’

Check out the full article in the Guardian here. You can also follow Carolyn on Twitter Twitter or Instagram, or visit her website.

The Department of Life Sciences offers an outstanding postgraduate degree in MRes Primate Biology, Behaviour and Conservation.