“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” R. Buckminster Fuller

(Michelle Merrill’s Curriculum Vitae)

Current Projects


Orangutan (Pongo abelii) mother and infant

Teaching introductory Biological AnthropologyCultural Anthropology and Sustainability courses.

Working on the GreenSteps campaign with the Cabrillo Climate Initiative Task Force, advising the Cabrillo Sustainability Council student club, supervising students working on the Cabrillo Sustainability Assessment, and participating in the Cabrillo College Sustainability Alliance.

Engaged Interdisciplinary Learning in Sustainability (EILS): Enhancing STEM Education through Social and Technological Literacy project funded by the National Science Foundation.

Developing curricula, teaching and consulting on sustainable technology, evolutionary biology and ecological and social systems such as the Sim-Bio-Sys: Simulating Biological Systems workshop and ANTHR 19G: Surviving the Future: The (Re)emergence of Sustainable Cultures

Previous Projects

I completed my Ph.D. in the Department of Biological Anthropology and Anatomy at Duke University. My entire dissertation is available as PDF files here.

Orangutans, Pongo abelii

Orangutans (Pongo abelii) at Suaq Balimbing, using a tool to extract seeds from a Neesia fruit

Tool use by orangutans and other non-human primates. Download a 2MB video of an orangutan at Suaq Balimbing

making and using a feeding tool, or see a Windows Media file of orangutans.

The origins of culture, social transmission of information, and interpopulation variation in the great apes. You can listen to a report about the orangutan cultures work I and my colleagues reported in the journal Science, or read about cultural variation in the chimpanzee.

Field studies of orangutans in Indonesia. Click here to see more about the Suaq Balimbing Research Station.

Cooperative behavior and alliances between unrelated individuals in non-human primates and other mammals.

The evolution of infanticidal behavior in female mammals.

Teaching Evolutionary Biology, Primate Biology and introductory Biological Anthropology courses.

Replication Coordinator for the Digtial Bridge Academy.

Field studies of bonobos (Pan paniscus) at Lomako Forest, Equateur, Zaire.


Bonobo (Pan paniscus) male, infant and female
Photo by Frances J. White

Field studies of elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) at Año Nuevo, California.

Working on an Ecological Literacy graduation requirement and/or certificate program and/or developing a multidisciplinary Environmental Studies program at Cabrillo College.

Participating in the Sustainability Curriculum Working Group at UC Santa Cruz.


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