OC Welcomes a New Board Member!

The Orangutan Conservancy is pleased to announce the addition of Dr. Meredith Bastian to our board of directors. We are thrilled to be welcoming her to the table as she brings along valuable knowledge from her over 20 years of experience in the academic and conservation communities. 

Bastian received her Ph.D. in Biological Anthropology and Anatomy with a minor in Biology from Duke University where she completed her dissertation on the “Effect of riverine dispersal barrier on cultural similarity in wild Bornean Orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus wormbii).” 

Meredith Bastian, PhD

Dr. Bastian has been the Curator of Primates at Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute since 2014 and is now transitioning to a new position, as Recruiting Editor at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). At the Smithsonian National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute, she acted as the direct supervisor of the Primate Unit, along with heading the research within the unit. She was in charge of overseeing the collection of apes, Old World Monkeys and lemurs and also held responsibility for the Great Ape House, Think Tank, Gibbon Ridge, Lemur Island, and the O-line which is an arboreal cable system that allows orangutans to travel between the Great Ape House and Think Tank. 

Work with Orangutans 

Dr. Bastian began her work with orangutans in 2003 as a PI and Field Site Director & Researcher at Duke University. During this time, she conducted extensive fieldwork at two wild orangutan research sites within Central Kalimantan, Borneo, Indonesia. The research focused on the geographically variable innovative behavior and feeding ecology in the wild populations of Pongo pygmaeus. She also set up, directed, and managed the Sungai Lading Orangutan Project for 2.5 years. 

From 2003 to 2007, Dr. Bastion performed Postdoctoral Research and worked as the Orangutan Field Manager at Boston University. She managed the Gunung Palung National Park Orangutan Project in Western Kalimantan, Borneo, Indonesia, where she was responsible for fully supervising the fieldwork. 

Dr. Bastion has previously served on the Steering Committee for both the Gibbon and Orangutan SSP and has since moved on to be a Research Advisor for the Orangutan SSP. She currently serves on the Scientific Advisory Board (since 2012) with the Orangutan Land Trust, along with being on the Board of Advisors for the Netherlands PONGO Foundation (since 2007). She also continues to be a Research Advisor for Orangutan SAFE (since 2018). 

Recent Publications: 

Knott CD et al., incl. Bastian ML (in press). The Gunung Palung Orangutan Project: Twenty five years at the intersection of research and conservation in a critical landscape in Indonesia. Biological Conservation, Special Issue on Long Term Research in Tropical Ecology and Conservation.

Bastian ML, Glendinning DR, Brown JL, Boisseau NP, Edwards KL (2020). Effects of a recurring late-night event on the behavior and welfare of a population of zoo-housed gorillas. Zoo Biology DOI: 10.1002/zoo.21553.

Steidinger, Crowther TW, Liang J, van Nuland NE, Werner GDA, Bastian ML, et al. (2019). Climate drives the global biogeography of forest tree symbioses. Nature 569(7756): 404.

Botting JL, Bastian ML. (2019). Examining the use of auditory signals as “attention-getters” in zoo-housed gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) and orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus and hybrid). International Journal of Primatology 40(4-5): 573-586.

Botting JL, Bastian ML. (2019). Orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus and hybrid) and gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) modify their visual, but not auditory, communicative behaviors, depending on the attentional state of a human experimenter. International Journal of Primatology 40(2): 244-262.

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