Personal profile


Cat Hobaiter grew up in Lebanon, England, and France. She has worked with primates in Uganda, and across Africa, for 15-years. She earned her PhD from the University of St Andrews in 2011, today her group here (the Wild Minds Lab) concentrates on long-term field studies of communication and cognition in wild African apes. She continues to spend around half the year in the field, and recently established new field sites in Uganda: the Bugoma Primate Conservation Project and in Guinea: the Moyen Bafing Chimpanzee Project. She likes good coffee and bad science-fiction.

You can find more about her research here and here: and find her on twitter @nakedprimate

Research overview

I study the evolution of communication and social behaviour, in particular through long-term field studies of wild chimpanzees and other apes. During my PhD I conducted the first systematic study of gestural communication in a wild ape, working in the Budongo Forest Reserve in Uganda with the Sonso chimpanzee community. We have now extended this research across sites and ape species, and now even to other species such as elephants. Like humans, apes do not gesture or vocalize in isolation - their communication combines calls, gestures, facial expressions, and body postures; in order to better understand their communication and cognition we have integrated the study of all of these separate modalities into our study of communication. Through this work we hope not only to advance our understanding of great ape communication but also by looking at areas of overlap or species specific traits, we hope to gain an understanding of the evolutionary origins of language.

Teaching activity

PS3036 Evolutionary and Comparative Psychology, Junior Honors

PS5010 Origins of Mind, MSc

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

External positions

Vice-president, International Primatological Society


Director, Bugoma Primate Conservation Project

2015 → …


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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