Melissa Remis

  • Professor of Anthropology

  • Melissa Jane Remis received her PhD from Yale University in 1994, and joined the Purdue University faculty in 1996. 

    Personal Website

Office Information

  • Office: STON 315
  • Office Phone: (765) 496-1514
  • Office Hours: Spring 2015 Tues. 3:00-4:00 or by appointment
  • E-mail:
  • Courses

  • Taught (Last two years)

    Anthropology 203 Biological Basis of Human Social Behavior
    Anthropology 204 Introduction to Human Evolution Anthropology 335 Primate Behavior
    Anthropology 535 Foundations of Biological Anthropology
    Anthropology 536 Primate Ecology

  • Specialization

  • Africa; Central African Republic; Biological Anthropology: Primate Ecology and Behavior; Human Ecology; Animal Behavior and Ecology; Conservation Biology; Sustainable Development; Developing Nations; Ecology; Wildlife; Nutrition; Human Evolution; Gender.

  • Dr. Remis’ field-based research in the Central African Republic focuses on the behavioral ecology of western gorillas, which were poorly known before she initiated her field research in the late 1980s.  In addition to this ongoing work, she is currently engaged in a collaborative field program with ecologists and cultural anthropologists on human impacts on mammals and conservation in the Central African Republic. She also maintains an experimentally based research program on the evolution of feeding strategies among the African apes which employs research on captive apes in zoological facilities. She has authored or coauthored over 14 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals such as the American Journal of Primatology, American Journal of Physical Anthropology, International Journal of Primatology, and Primates.  She has presented papers at national and international conferences and has been invited to participate at special conferences on gorilla ecology, and primate locomotion, including recently being the only woman among only 12 senior international scholars of African apes invited to Japan in honor of retiring prominent Japanese primatologist, Dr. Toshida Nishida.  Each of these presentations resulted in additional publications in peer-reviewed books.  She has served as a reviewer for granting agencies including NSF and academic journals in physical anthropology, primatology, ecology and conservation.  She was named to the editorial board at International Journal of Primatology in 2003. At Purdue she has taught courses on Primate Ecology, Conservation and Behavior, Human Evolution, Biological Anthropology at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.  She has trained US and African graduate students in African field research and undergraduates from several institutions in zoo based research.  Remis Research Group  Please follow this link for more information about Dr. Remis, her graduate students and the current research that they are conducting.

    Positions at Purdue University

    2008 - present Professor of Anthropology
    2001 - 2008 Associate Professor of Anthropology
    1996 - 2001 Assistant Professor of Anthropology 
    Service to the Profession

    Editorial Board, International Journal of Primatology, 2003 – present

    Reviewer, National Geographic Society Grants for Research, 1999 - present

    Reviewer, Physical Anthropology and Ecology Programs, NSF, 1997 – present

    Honors and Awards

    Purdue University Scholar 2006-2011

    Fulbright Fellowship Finalist, Central African Republic, 2002

    Five Most Important Publications

     2009       Remis, M.J. and R. Hardin.  Transvalued Species in an African Forest. Conservation Biology  v. 23(6):1588-1596.

    2006   Hardin, R and Remis, M.J.  Biological and Cultural Anthropology of a Changing Tropical Forest: A Fruitful Collaboration Across Subfields American Anthropologist  v 108 (2) 273-285.

    2004     Remis, M.J., Dierenfeld, E.S.  Digesta Passage, Digestibility and Behavior in Captive Gorillas Under Two Dietary Regimens.  International Journal of Primatology 25(4)825-845.

    1997     Remis, M.J.  1997.  Western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) as seasonal frugivores: Use of variable resources.   American Journal of Primatology, 43:87-109.

    1995     Remis, M.J.  1995.  Use of trees by lowland gorillas: The importance of body size and social context.   American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 97(4): 413-433.

    Most Recent Publications

    2014  Remis, Melissa J. and C.A. Jost Robinson.  Examining short-term nutritional status among BaAka foragers in transitional economies  American Journal of Physical Anthropology. Article first published online: 17 APR 2014 | DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22521

    2011 Jost Robinson, C. A., L. L. Daspit, and M. J. Remis.  Multi-faceted approaches to understanding changes and wildlife and livelihoods in a protected area: A conservation case study from the Central African Republic.  Environmental Conservation. doi:10.1017/S0376892910000949

    2010 Remis, M.J. and J.B. Kpanou.  Primate and ungulate abundance in response to multi-use zoning and human extractive activities in a Central African Reserve.  African Journal of Ecology.   Online Early : 16 SEP 2010, DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2028.2010.01229.x

    Extramural Grant Support

    National Science Foundation 2007, Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research 2007, 2008.

    National Geographic Society.  July-Dec 2005, June-Dec 1995, 1990.

    World Wildlife Fund-US& Primate Conservation Inc., 2008, 2005, 2002, June-Aug 1997, 1998

    National Science Foundation.  Feb, 1999-June, 2000.

    Field  Experience

    2002, 2005, 2008-09   Impacts of human disturbance on mammal populations in the Congo Basin, Dzanga Sangha Reserve, Central African Republic (CAR) Jan-May, 2002, July 2005 ongoing

    1999-2001, 2008, 2010      Diet, Nutrition, Food preferences, taste & digestion among apes 1999, 2000, 2001 ongoing

    1997, 1998      Apes & the effects of humans on wildlife in the CAR, June-Aug 1997, 1998.

    1995                Post-Doctoral research on sex differences in gorilla ecology, CAR June-Dec, 1995.

    1990-92           Doctoral Research on the feeding ecology and positional behavior of gorillas, CAR, Aug 1990-Nov, 1992. Pilot Research: Sep-Dec 1988

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