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Steven J. Schapiro, Ph.D.

Steven J. Schapiro, Ph.D.

Dr. Schapiro received his B.A. in behavioral biology from Johns Hopkins University (1980), where under the mentorship of Bernadette Marriott, Ph.D., he had his first opportunity to study the monkeys of Cayo Santiago. He later received his Ph.D. in comparative psychology from the University of California at Davis (1985), based on studies of captive Old World monkeys at the California National Primate Research Center and the Institute for Primate Research in Kenya. His postdoctoral fellowship took him back to the Caribbean Primate Research Center, and again under the mentorship of Bernadette Marriott, he studied New World monkeys at the Sabana Seca Field Station. Since 1989, his work has focused on the behavioral management of the nonhuman primate (rhesus monkey, owl monkey, squirrel monkey, baboon, and chimpanzee) colonies at the Michale E. Keeling Center for Comparative Medicine and Research of UTMDACC. In addition to studying behavioral management, Dr. Schapiro collaborates with multiple investigators on studies of the evolution of language, the evolution of culture, and the evolution of economic behavior in chimpanzees. Dr. Schapiro has organized numerous primate behavioral management conferences and workshops, including the Primate Training and Enrichment Workshop and the Primate Behavioral Management Conference. He is the editor of the Handbook of Primate Behavioral Management published by CRC Press in May, 2017. He is active in both the American Society of Primatologists (ASP) and the International Primatological Society, having served as Treasurer of both societies and as President of ASP. He was co-organizer of the 2013 ASP meeting, which took place in Puerto Rico and included a field trip to Cayo Santiago for over 100 attendees. Dr. Schapiro holds an Honorary Professorship in the Department of Experimental Medicine of the University of Copenhagen and consults on issues related to behavioral management at primate facilities in the US, Europe, and Africa.

Why did I decide to organize the 3Rs for the CPRC?

I organized this mission to Repair, Restore, and Revitalize the CPRC because I had an idea about how severe the damage was to Cayo Santiago, Punta Santiago, and to Puerto Rico in general, and I wanted to do more to help than just send money. I have a large network of connections in the primatological community and I thought that it was pretty likely that there were a substantial number of individuals in the community who felt similarly. Cayo Santiago is an extremely important research site to virtually all primatologists and is part of my academic upbringing. Even those who haven’t been there, have probably read dozens of papers about the Cayo macaques and their behavior. I am a decent organizer and felt that I could organize the human, and to a certain extent, the financial, components of this mission in such a way that we would impose as small a burden as possible on the people we were trying to help. Their burden is already greater than we can even imagine, and our aim is to lighten their load and not increase it. I think we are well on our way to accomplishing a few of our initial goals; our upcoming trip should allow us to repair, restore, and hopefully, revitalize a small proportion of the facilities, infrastructure, and homes that were devastated by Hurricane Maria. I am extremely grateful to all who have chosen to support this effort, by making the trip, by contributing financially and/or with their time and energy, and by wishing the best for the monkeys of Cayo Santiago and the people of Punta Santiago.

Angelina Ruiz-Lambides, M.A., Ph.D.c

Angelina Ruiz-Lambides, M.A., Ph.D.c

I have been trusted with the directorship of a world-renowned facility for non-invasive behavioral research, Cayo Santiago Biological Field Station (CSBFS), an off-campus facility within the University of Puerto Rico (UPR). The field station is based on a 38 acres island inhabited by rhesus macaques located one kilometer off the southeastern coast of Puerto Rico and 36 miles from the main campus. It is a facility that has supported research and education for over 75 years, and it serves as an example to understand the complexity as well as the importance of maintaining continuity at a decades old field site.

I have established my career in diverse leadership positions directing operations, research, and management of primates in various settings. My work at the Caribbean Primate Research Center (CPRC) over the past 11 years has required that I assume multiple roles while remaining flexible but focused on tangible goals. Throughout my years associated to the CPRC, I have provided leadership to a team that consists of 32 staff members, including managers, supervisors, research assistants, and technicians. As Director, I secure resources by providing results-oriented services to all Principal Investigators as well as the facility staff. It is my responsibility to coordinate access to conduct research, establish bench fee structures, and support researchers as they seek approval to conduct their studies. Meanwhile, the uniqueness of Cayo Santiago allows me to promote collaborations with researchers from national and international institutions; as well as to recruit students who could enroll as members of research experiences and offer mentorship while they work at our field site.

I take great pride in the development of the Station’s outreach program. This program aims to foster a better understanding of the research carried out at our facility by engaging the general public through educational and community activities. As the only minority U.S. institution of higher education that hosts a primate center, the CSBFS represents a resource with vast potential to improve diversity and inclusion in science.

Post - Hurricane Maria:
Beyond the enormous efforts to rebuild the CSBFS, our staff has worked tirelessly to help our community of Punta Santiago. The homes of many of the staff were damaged by the hurricane, including one staff member whose house was destroyed. Yet the staff got the boat in the water to feed the monkeys a day after the storm and have been working hard ever since. The dedication of our staff is truly awe-inspiring. To have lost everything and to still come to work to help colleagues and the monkeys is incredible.

Angelina Ruiz-Lambides, M.A., Ph.D.cIn addition to the full census underway, our staff are working hard to re-establish the water collection and delivery system to provide the monkeys with the fresh water they need. They are also clearing paths and getting what could be dangerous debris out of harm’s way. Off the island, we are working to establish the immediate needs of our staff at home, as well as those of the members of the local community that have supported the presence of this field station in their town for over 75 years. We are thankful that this small community and the monkeys have received some support, but know that the road ahead is long. Our colleagues, friends, and family will be picking up the pieces of their lives for years to come.

Cayo Santiago Staff

The Cayo Santiago Staff is comprised of:

  • 5 - Boat Captains and Caretakers
  • 4 - Census Takers
  • 1 - Research Assistant
  • 1 - Administrative Secretary

Each one of these people is crucial to the operations of Cayo Santiago. Their commitment is admirable and their determination is unwavering. Even before the hurricane, they were always available and eager to care for their monkeys and for the research center.