FIU primatologist to talk monkey business, chasing dreams

Sian Evans, FIU professor and managing director of the DuMond Conservancy, will present “Anthropoid Adventures” Tuesday, March 27 at the Luna Star Café in North Miami.

It is scheduled for 7 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

"Peanut" the owl monkey lounges at his home in the DuMond Conservancy.

Evans teaches primate biology in the Department of Biological Sciences, an upper division course that includes training in behavioral research techniques at Monkey Jungle. As the director of the conservancy, she has also created an integrated program where education, science and advocacy advance owl monkeys as catalysts for preservation of the tropical rainforests where they naturally reside.

“It’s so important to work on preserving their natural habitats. Primates play a critical role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem and planet,” Evans said.  “I want to make the audience and the community excited about primates so they can appreciate what we can learn from them.”

Evans, who originally intended to pursue biomedical research, will share highlights from her three-decade career devoted to primatology.

“I had no interest in studying primates until I interacted with a pig tail macaque named ‘Porky’ at the London Zoo in 1975. I was fascinated by him and he changed what I wanted to do with my entire life,” Evans said. “Transformational events like these happen once in a lifetime. To not follow them because it derails from your trajectory is a big mistake.”

The event is part of the “Eat, Think, and Be Merry Science Café” series, one of three lecture series offered by the School of Environment, Arts and Society (SEAS). The café series, funded in part by the National Science Foundation’s Informal Science Education program, aims to engage a diverse public in dialogue with scientists in non-academic and casual settings.

“The idea behind the science cafe is to create an informal conversation between scientists and the community,” said Elaine Pritzker, coordinator for SEAS. “Rather than the traditional academic lecture, it’s a casual and interactive environment where people can share ideas on timely scientific issues and ask questions.”

The DuMond Conservancy, located on the grounds of Monkey Jungle, is a not-for-profit organization that serves as a resource for professionals and students concerned about the welfare of primates and their tropical forest habitats.