Erica van de Waal

Born in: Switzerland
Primary research category: Primatology, Behavioural Ecology
Research location / employer: Department of Ecology and Evolution, Université de Lausanne, Switzerland
Fellowship dates: 2014-2020

Academic Career

  • SNSF Professor, University of Lausanne, Switzerland 2017-present
  • Director, the Inkawu Vervet Project, Mawana Game Reserve, South Africa 2015-present
  • Group leader, University of Zurich, Switzerland 2015-2017
  • Scientific Coordinator, the Inkawu Vervet Project, Mawana Game Reserve, South Africa 2011-2015
  • Research Fellow, University of St Andrews, UK 2011-2015
  • PhD in Biology, University of Neuchâtel, in collaboration with ABEERU (Applied Behavioural Ecology and Ecosystem Research Unit) of University of South Africa and Loskop Dam Nature Reserve, Mpumalanga Parks Board, South Africa 2010
  • Master degree of Science in Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland 2006
  • Bachelor of Science in Biology at University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland 2004

Fellowship Research

This project will yield unique insights into tradition formation in wild primates by adding an experimental approach to the commonly used observational approach. Dr. van de Waal will test the effect of a model’s identity on the extent to which novel innovations spread, and also examine the spatial and temporal scales on which traditions may develop. The combined results will for the first time assess the role of social learning for behavioural phenotypes in a wild primate population, which should help us to better understand what makes our human culture so unique.

Major Awards

  • Tinbergen prize & Plenary talk, Ethologische Gesellschaft, European Conference of Behavioural Biology, Prague 2014
  • Advanced Postdoc.Mobility fellowship, Swiss National Science Foundation 2014
  • Student prize for best talk: Testing for traditions of food cleaning in 6 groups of vervet monkeys, IPS, Kyoto 2010
  • Prize “Jean Landry” for Master of Science in Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution at University of Neuchâtel 2006
  • Prize “Société Académique de Genève, Prix Gillet-Voyage” for swiss high school leaving exam- in language/experimental science section, at the “Collège De Saussure”- Geneva 2000