Joanna Lambert
Faculty: Biological Anthropology


My theoretical interests are in evolutionary and community ecology, with a taxonomic focus on the Order Primates. I have worked in a number of sites in the Paleo- and Neotropics. However, my primary field site is Kibale National Park, Uganda, where – since 1991 – I have studied a diversity of primate and plant species. Over the years, my research has developed along three complementary and synergistic trajectories, including: (i) nutritional ecology and the evolution and morphology of feeding biology, (ii) tropical community ecology (esp. primate-plant  interactions), and (iii) conservation biology. Most recently, I have been exploring phenotypic plasticity in primate feeding biology and its implications at evolutionary and ecological scales. At an evolutionary scale, I am currently evaluating the significance of intra-species plasticity for  understanding the evolution of niches, feeding guilds and species richness. At an ecological scale, I am exploring the implications of feeding plasticity for species coexistence and for tolerating anthropogenic stress.


With my training and research interests in ecology, evolution, and anthropology, I am in a position to provide students with a perspective that crosscuts traditional disciplinary boundaries. In our increasingly complicated world, I find that inter-disciplinary training is particularly relevant,  especially in the context of conservation ecology. My teaching philosophy is geared toward involving students as much as possible in active reasoning, a critical perspective, and scientific rigor in an interdisciplinary and globalized world. Wherever possible, this involves giving students  hands-on research experience, whether it is through laboratories based on behavioral observations, ecological measurements, or computer statistical analysis, or in the field, be it Africa, Latin America, or the diversity of habitats found in North America.

About Joanna Lambert

Joanna Lambert has a deep passion for our wild and natural world, resulting in a career spent publishing and teaching about the evolution, ecology, and conservation of wild primates and, more recently, carnivores. Professor Lambert comes to CU from the University of Texas at San Antonio, where she has been an active participant in the ecological and environmental anthropology program. Previous to her position at Texas, Joanna was a tenured associate professor of anthropology and zoology at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and a tenure-track assistant  professor of anthropology and evolutionary biology at the University of Oregon. In addition to her teaching and research roles, Joanna Lambert is the co-founder of the Northwest Primate Conservation Society, has served as an advisor to the United Nations Environmental Program, and is  currently serving on the Primate Specialist Group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). She has held numerous editorial positions for journals such as Oecologia, the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, the American Journal of Primatology, PLoS ONE,  Integrative Zoology, Tropical Conservation Science, and African Primates.  She also formerly served an appointment as the Director of the National Science Foundation’s Biological Anthropology program. Joanna Lambert’s accolades include receiving the Vilas Associate Award for  Research at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, as well as the highest university – wide awards for both research (R.A. Bray Faculty Fellowship for Excellence in Scholarship) and teaching (Ersted “Crystal Apple” Award for Distinguished Teaching) at the University of Oregon. In 2003,  she was named Oregon’s Emerald Professor of the Year. Most recently, she was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) – the largest scientific society in the world (est. 1848) – for her “outstanding contributions to the field of feeding biology” –  as well being made a Fellow of the Linnean Society – the world’s oldest society (est. 1788) devoted to the study of natural history and where Charles Darwin first proposed his theory of evolution by natural selection. Joanna’s passion for the natural world extends beyond academic and  professional settings. She spends as much time as possible in the great, wild outdoors. This involves adventure travel to some of the remotest places on the planet (most recently, near the magnetic North Pole!) and backpacking in extreme conditions. In addition, Joanna spends any  available extra time riding dressage on her horse, adding to her lifetime bird species list, playing with her two exuberant dogs, and competing with mule deer to keep her garden alive.

Joanna Lambert is accepting graduate students for Fall of 2018