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

Department Information

Anthropology // Faculty

Office Information

  • Courses

  • Taught (Last two years)

    ANTH 204 Introduction to Human Evolution Anthropology 335 Primate Behavior 
    ANTH 235 The Great Apes
    ANTH 335 Primate Behavior
    ANTH 392 Anthropology of Parks: Communities and Conservation
    ANTH 535 Foundations of Biological Anthropology 
    ANTH 536 Primate Ecology

  • Specialization

  • Africa; Central African Republic; Biological Anthropology: Primate Ecology and Behavior; Human Ecology; Nutrition; Conservation Biology; Hunter-gatherers; Environment; Sustainable Development; Ecology; Wildlife; Gender.  

  • Dr. Remis’ field-based research in the Central African Republic originally focused on the behavioral ecology of western gorillas, which were poorly known before she initiated her field research in the late 1980s.  She is currently engaged in collaborative ecological and ethnographic research on interrelated human and wildlife ecologies, diet, health and social impacts of extractive industry and conservation in Central Africa. Dr. Remis also maintains an experimentally based research program on the evolution of feeding strategies among the African apes incorporating research on captive apes in zoological facilities. She has authored or coauthored over 24 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals such as the Conservation Biology, American anthropologist, 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 and to contribute to edited volumes.  She has served as a reviewer and board panel member for granting agencies including NSF and Wenner-Gren 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, and Biological Anthropology at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.  She has trained US and central 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

    2015-Present | Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education, College of Liberal Arts

    2014-15 | Interim Department Head, Department of Anthropology

    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

    CIC Academic Leadership Program Fellow    2012-13               

    Purdue University Scholar 2006-2011


    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

    2014   Smith, B.K., M.J. Remis, and E.S. Dierenfeld. Nutrition of the captive western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla): a dietary survey. Zoo Biology 1–7

    2014   Jost Robinson, C.A. and Remis, M.J. Entangled Realms: Hunters and Hunted in the Dzanga Sangha Dense Forest Reserve (RDS), Central African Republic. Anthropology Quarterly. 87(3): 613-633.

    2014   Malone, N., Fuentes, A., Riley, E.P., M. Remis, A.H. Wade and C.J. Robinson Ethnoprimatology: critical interdisciplinarity and multispecies approaches in anthropology Theme issue:  “Critical perspectives on multi-species ethnography.  Critique of Anthropology 34:8-29.

    2012   Remis, M.J. and C.A. Jost Robinson Reductions in primate abundance and diversity in a multiuse protected area: synergistic impacts of hunting and logging in a Congo Basin forest, American Journal of Primatology 74: 602-612.


    Extramural Grant Support

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

    National Geographic Society.

    World Wildlife Fund-US& Primate Conservation Inc.,


    Field Experience

    Diet, food security and sociocultural change among hunter-gathers in transition to market economies in conservation zones in the Central African Republic.

    Impacts of human disturbance on mammal populations in the Congo Basin, Dzanga Sangha Reserve, Central African Republic (CAR).

    Diet, Nutrition, Food preferences, taste & digestion and captive management among apes.

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

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


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