This Spring, Purdue held its first virtual Undergraduate Research Conference. Kamryn Dehn, a senior in Aquatic Sciences and Anthropology presented her research, “Male vs. Female Representation in Chimpanzee Behavioral Studies.” She was awarded 1st place among the College of Liberal Arts posters alongside her research mentor, Dr. Stacy Lindshield and another undergraduate student, Diana Quintero.
For this project, Kamryn studies chimpanzee behavioral research metadata and determines the number of male subjects versus female subjects in each study. Kamryn says that recognizing male bias in behavioral studies is important because “what we learn from these specific studies can shape how we approach and discuss human evolution, and how we explain modern human behaviors.” Viewing research from a male-biased lens can exclude other important behavioral knowledge that would aid in our understanding of human evolution and behavior according to Dehn.
During her sophomore year at Purdue, Kamryn was considering adding a second major, anthropology. “I always had an interest in anthropology and thought the courses complemented my major really well.” In her junior fall semester, Kamryn was enrolled in Dr. Lindshield’s Great Apes course where she developed a professional interest in primatology. Since Kamryn enjoyed Dr. Lindshield’s course, after class she approached her about research opportunities and joined her research group the following semester.
“I had always been somewhat scared about getting involved in undergraduate research because I didn’t feel I knew enough about data analysis or didn’t have an appropriate skillset,” Kamryn said. “There is something for everyone in undergraduate research, you just have to be willing to look for it.” She adds that for students who are looking to do undergraduate research, they should trust themselves and learn how to ask for help. The purpose of undergraduate research is to learn skills and research techniques in areas you are interested in. “Don’t feel like you have to know everything going into undergraduate research. You’ll learn.”