Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Summer Time Sadness

I'm still training and collecting data with the ruffed lemurs, more accurately, my assistants are still training and collecting data with the ruffed lemurs. After a minor hiccup with data collection (which I rather not discuss), I am back to square one collecting my color vision data. Unfortunately, all of the lemurs that had previous did testing trials seemed to had forgotten how to use SMARTA so we had to re-train them again. Well, everyone except Halley.

Yes, Halley, the black and white ruffed lemur. My pride and joy Halley. She had last used the SMARTA over 6 months ago and when I set that apparatus right in front of her, she remembered where she had left off. At the moment, Halley and Pandora are currently taking a break from my study because ... THEY GAVE BIRTH OVER A MONTH AGO! Halley gave birth to 2 boys (Cosmo and Astro) while Pandora gave birth to a boy (Kalani) and a girl (Sally).

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Lemurpalooza: Thanks For Coming Out!

Lemurpalooza was a huge success. Despite the fact that it was hot and muggy out, many showed up to the event. Thanks to those that came and stopped by my table to chat with me about ruffed lemurs and color vision.

Here's a link to Duke Lemur Center's Facebook page Live Video if you have missed the event and would like to watch.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Lemurpalooza 2016: Saturday, June 4th 2016 at Duke Lemur Center

MRW someone said Lemurpalooza is BACK!

Lemurpalooza is back again for yet another exciting palooza for Summer 2016. Hosted by Duke Lemur Center, Lemurpalooza 2016 will have food trucks, live music, and lemurtastic activities for kids and kids at heart. You can also walk around and view the lemurs at your own pace (usually you'll need to be escorted by a tour guide) as well as being able to "adopt" the lemurs. Money from these sponsorship goes to maintaining the lemurs at Duke Lemur Center as well as to fund conservation work.

 As usual, I will be at Lemurpalooza this year. Hear me talk about my color vision research and learn more about my ruffed lemurs! You will be able to see all the ruffed lemurs that I mentioned in my blog posts, especially Halley & Pandora. Come find me at Lemurpalooza!

You will also be able to "adopt" some of the lemurs as well and I do encourage you to do so, not only for the animals but also for all the necessary conservation work in Madagascar.


From Duke Lemur Center's website:
Bring a blanket, join us for a picnic, and meet the lemurs in the Adopt-a-Lemur Program at the Duke Lemur Center (DLC), from 5 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 4th. Your sponsorship will help us care for the lemurs at DLC and support the conservation work we do around the world.

NOSH, a wonderful supporter of the Duke Lemur Center, will be selling picnic style dinner at Lemurpalooza. They will be offering burgers, their famous brisket and portabella mushroom burgers for vegetarians or bring your own picnic basket.

Come meet unique primates you can’t see anywhere else in the U.S. This will be a special evening experience that allows families to stroll and view the animals at their own pace (Usually a visit to the center must be a guided tour.) Keepers and education staff will be on hand to answer all questions about each animal up for adoption. Engaging educational activities will be provided for kids and kids at heart. Community fun, gorgeous lemurs, and an opportunity to conserve the environment and endangered animals all add up to a perfect summer evening.
How your donation helps lemurs
In 2012, lemurs were named the most endangered mammals on the planet. The Duke Lemur Center has been caring and learning from lemurs for nearly 50 years. It is the world’s largest sanctuary for these animals outside of their native Madagascar. When you adopt a lemur, you not only help cover the $7,400 per year cost it takes to care for each animal, but also support our work in the U.S., Madagascar and around the world to study and save these endangered animals.
With your tax-deductible donation, you’ll receive regular updates and photos on the animals of your choice, and you won’t have to scoop the poop! These animals stay at the Duke Lemur Center, and we do the dirty work. In addition to adopting a lemur, you can help save lemurs by entering our silent auction and featuring great DLC experiences and swag along with other community goodies!
Animals up for adoption 
  • Raven, our ‘movie star,’ had her big screen moment in the recently released IMAX documentary, Island of Lemurs: Madagascar.
  • Tasherit is a busy crowned lemur mother, managing the demands of two young boys!
  • Teres is our super-star ring-tailed researcher who can find food in a puzzle box faster than you can blink an eye.
  • Presley is a blue-eyed black lemur named after the blue-eyed ‘King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.’ Blue-eyed black lemurs are one of two non-human primates to have truly blue eyes.
  • Pompeia is a six-year-old Coquerel’s Sifaka and recent mother who is one of less than 60 individuals of her species living in captivity.
  • Grendel is a male aye-aye. The Duke Lemur Center has had more success at breeding aye-ayes than any other institution in the world.
  • Thistle is a teacup-sized female mouse lemur. Because mouse lemurs develop Alzheimer’s-like symptoms as they age, researchers at the Duke Lemur Center hope their non-invasive mouse lemur research will help us better understand the aging brain.
Reservations are required. Call 919-401-7252 to reserve your spot and mark your calendar to meet the new adoptees at the Duke Lemur Center. 
Tickets are $50 per car and are fully tax deductible.

WHAT: Lemurpalooza
WHEN: 5 – 8 p.m., Saturday, June 4th, 2016.
WHERE: Duke Lemur Center, 3705 Erwin Rd in Durham. For directions please visit
HOW: To reserve your spot, please call 919-401-7252

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Read About My Ruffed Lemur Color Vision Research in Duke Lemur Center's Spring 2016 Newsletter

My ruffed lemur color vision research at Duke Lemur Center was recently highlighted in their 2016 Spring Newsletter! Here's a link to the PDF version of this newsletter which I have uploaded on Research Gate.

A preview of my article in the Duke Lemur Center 2016 Spring Newsletter

To sign up for Duke Lemur Center newsletter please click here.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

I Talked About SMARTA and Ruffed Lemur Color Vision A Lot This Week

Duke Lemur Center presentation cover page

I gave a 30 minute presentation on Tuesday at Duke Lemur Center this week for their "Lemurs, Science, and Beer" seminar. The title of the talk is "Do You See What I See? Studying Ruffed Lemur (Varecia spp.) Color Vision using SMARTA".  In this presentation, I did a brief talk about how color vision came to be and what the world might look like for ruffed lemurs if they cannot see red or if they can see red. Then, I talked about my research questions and how I try to answer them by using SMARTA.

Hey, I know this Raymond Vagell guy! 

The event had a great turn out. It even attracted a few public attendees as I had advertised the talk on Facebook and Twitter. I'm glad that I was able to talk about what SMARTA is and how it is used to study ruffed lemur color vision to the DLC staff because they've seen me conducting my research but probably doesn't really know what I'm doing. Thanks to all my friends who came to support me. 

That's Carme using SMARTA

On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to talk about SMARTA and ruffed lemur color vision to Scaling Stem participants who came to visit DLC. I talked about how SMARTA came to be and how it was built. Then, I showed the participants how SMARTA works. Because this is a women in STEM group, it was apropos to have Halley demonstrate how SMARTA works. Without skipping a beat, Halley did her color vision trials perfectly and her enthusiasm wow-ed the crowd.

Giving a talk to Scaling Stem participants. Helping me demonstrate SMARTA is my lemur assistant, Halley

On Thursday, I gave a brief talk to a group of college freshmen that are interested in animal cognition studies. Though the talk was brief, I was able to share some tips on designing animal studies and things to expect when working with animals. This time, Carme helped demonstrate SMARTA. She also wow-ed the crowd with her cognitive skills in discrimination tasks.

Giving a brief talk about my color vision project 

This has been a long week! But, I am glad that I was given the opportunity to talk about my research and sharing my stories not only to the DLC staff, but also to educators and students. This week is also my last week at DLC for awhile. I am flying back to NYC and will be back to DLC periodically until the study is done around August. My assistant will be continuing this study while I am away. Thanks to Dr. Erin Ehmke for giving me the opportunities to share my work with the DLC family, educators and students.