Since I was a child I have been motivated by an immense love for animals and curiosity about the natural world. As a kid, I spent summers carefully observing the life cycle of monarch butterflies and exploring nature until I had more questions than answers about the world around me. My love of nature, eagerness to engage in hands-on research, and drive to be part of a close-knit school community brought me to college at College of the Atlantic (COA) in Bar Harbor, Maine. At COA I was able to conduct my own research on small mammal ecology on various Maine islands and revelled in the wonder and interconnections inherent in an interdisciplinary, place-based education.
Following my experience at COA and an enriching internship at the Duke Lemur Center, I decided to go to graduate school to pursue my dream of studying non-human primates in the wild. My PhD research at Yale University focused on lemurs in Madagascar and better understanding how these endangered primates are impacted by human activities. I spent a total of 17 months living in a tent in the forest, immersed in the daily lives of lemurs. The experience was soul-enriching and dream-fulfilling, and the results of my research helped to inform conservation of landscapes where humans and lemurs can coexist. Besides falling in love with lemurs and Madagascar while in graduate school, I also discovered my passion for teaching and fostering student excitement about science.
Following graduate school and before joining Maine Coast Semester, I taught courses on human-wildlife conflict and coexistence, primate conservation, and ecology and evolution at Yale.
In many ways joining MCS feels like coming home. I am eager to return to a small, intentional community, to share my love of the natural world with students (while getting our boots wet and hands dirty!), and to continue my own life-long learning journey.
B.A. in Human Ecology, College of the Atlantic
Ph.D. in Anthropology, Yale University
Chen-Kraus, C., Farmer, C., Guevara, E.G., Meier, K., Watts, D.P., Widness, J. 2021. Whom do primate names honor? Rethinking primate eponyms. International Journal of Primatology, 42, 980–986. [Alternate public link.]
Chen-Kraus, C. 2020. Assessing anthropogenic impacts on endangered Verreaux’s sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi) and prospects for human-lemur coexistence. Dissertation. Yale University, New Haven, CT.
Chen-Kraus, C. 2014. An ecological study of mammals on Burying Island, Maine. Senior Thesis. College of the Atlantic, Bar Harbor, ME.