I study how primates communicate


Currently a postdoc in #GesturalOrigins at St Andrews



Kirsty E. Graham


2017: PhD, School of Psychology & Neuroscience, Uni of St Andrews
2012: Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Science, Quest Uni Canada


2020-Current: Research Fellow, University of St Andrews
2017-2020: Research Associate, University of York
2016-2017: Research Assistant, University of St Andrews & Kyoto University


Graham KE, Badihi G, Safryghin A, Grund C & Hobaiter C (2022) A socio-ecological perspective on the gestural communication of great ape species, individuals, and social units. Ethology, Ecology, and Evolution, 34(3), 235-259

Hobaiter C, Graham KE & Byrne R (2022) Are ape gestures like words? Outstanding issues in detecting similarities and differences between human language and ape gesture. Philosophical Transactions B, 377, 20210301

Péter H, Laport M, Newton-Fisher NE, Reynolds V, Samuni L, Soldati A, Vigilant L, Villioth J, Graham KE, Zuberbühler K & Hobaiter C (2022) Recognition of visual kinship signals in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) by humans (Homo sapiens). Journal of Comparative Psychology, Advance online publication

Raby CL, Cusick JA, Fürtbauer I, Graham KE, Habig B, Hauber ME, Madden JR, Strauss A & Fernández-Juricic E (2022) An inclusive venue to discuss behavioural biology research: the first global Animal Behaviour Twitter Conference. Animal Behaviour, 187, 191-207

Graham KE, Furuichi T & Byrne RW (2021) Context, not sequence order, affects the meaning of bonobo (Pan paniscus) gestures. Gesture, 19(2/3), 336-365

Graham KE, Buryn-Weitzel J, Lahiff NJ, Wilke CP & Slocombe KE (2021) Detecting joint attention events in mother-infant dyads: sharing looks cannot be reliably identified by naïve third-party observers. PLoS ONE 16(7), e0255241

Kavanagh E, Street SE, Angwela FO, Bergman TJ, Blaszczyk MB, Bolt LM, Briseño-Jaramillo M, Brown M, Chen-Kraus C, Clay Z, Coye C, Emery Thompson M, Estrada A, Fichtel C, Fruth B, Gamba M, Giacoma C, Graham KE, Green S …  Slocombe K (2021) Dominance style is a key predictor of vocal use and evolution across nonhuman primates. Royal Society Open Science 8, 210873210873

Graham KE, Wilke CP, Lahiff NJ & Slocombe KE (2019) Scratching Beneath the Surface: Intentionality in Great Ape Signal production. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 375, 20180403

Graham KE & Hobaiter C (2019) Gestural Communication in the Great Apes. In J. C. Choe (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior (Second edi, pp. 371–377)

Graham KE, Hobaiter C, Ounsley J, Furuichi T & Byrne RW (2018) Bonobo and chimpanzee gestures overlap extensively in meaning. PLoS biology 16(2), e2004825

Graham KE, Furuichi T & Byrne R (2017) The gestural repertoire of the wild bonobo (Pan paniscus): a mutually understood communication system. Animal Cognition 20(2), 171-177

Ryu H, Graham KE, Sakamaki T & Furuichi T (2016) Long-sightedness in old wild bonobos during grooming. Current Biology 26, R1-R3

Tokuyama N, Moore DL, Graham KE, Lokasola A & Furuichi T (2016) Cases of maternal cannibalism in wild bonobos (Pan paniscus) from two different field sites, Wamba and Kokolopori, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Primates 58(1), 7-12

Barceló-Coblijn L, Cuthbertson CM, Graham KE, Hartmann S & Pleyer M (2016) Conference report on Evolang 11. Journal of Language Evolution 1(2), 159-162

Graham KE, Bulloch MJ & Lewis TR (2013) Foraging behaviour of three primate species in a Costa Rican coastal lowland tropical wet forest. Biodiversity Journal 4(2), 327–334

Lewis TR, Griffin RK, Grant PBC, Figueroa A, Ray JM, Graham KE & David G (2013) Morphology and ecology of Sibon snakes (Squamata: Dipsadidae) from two forests in Central America. Phyllomedusa 12(1), 47–55    


2022: Shortlisted for SULSA ECR Prize
2019: Public Engagement Masterclass, 50% Bursary, Wellcome Genome Campus Scientific Conferences
2017: Gorilla Awards in Behavioural Science, Shortlisted,
2016: Russell Trust Award (Postgraduate), University of St Andrews
2016: St Leonard’s College Lecture Prize, University of St Andrews
2016: Grindley Grant for Conference Attendance, Experimental Psychology Society
2014: Wenner-Gren Foundation Dissertation Fieldwork Grant
2013: 600th Anniversary Doctoral Scholarship, University of St Andrews
2012: Distinction for Keystone Paper, Quest University Canada
2009: Outstanding Student of the Year, Quest University Canada
2008: David Strangway Award for Excellence, Full Tuition Scholarship, Quest University Canada (2008-12)    


2022: Culture Conference Panelist, Zurich, Switzerland; Evolutionary Pragmatics Forum (online); Evolutionary Anthropology Seminar Series, University College London, UK
2021: Gestures seminar series, Ruhr-University Bochum and Osnabrück; Newcastle University; Global Primatology Conference, plenary speaker; The Learning Salon; Primate Conversations, University of Oxford, UK; UC San Diego, USA
2020: ISLE, Zurich, Switzerland
2019: Universitat de Barcelona, Spain; University of St Andrews, UK; Animal Linguistics, take the leap! Workshop, Ecole Normale Supérieure, France; BKSDA, Indonesia
2018: IPB University, Indonesia
2017: Derby QUAD, UK; Graduate Women Scotland, Dundee, UK; 7th International Symposium on Primatology and Wildlife Science, Kyoto University, Japan
2016: Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Uganda
2015: Université de Kinshasa, DRCongo


Symposia organised

2022: Joint Conference of the European Federation for Primatology and the Gesellschaft für Primatologie. Arnhem, Netherlands. “Meaning, context and function: Studies on flexibility versus specificity in primate communication.”  Graham KE & Fröhlich M

Papers Presented  

2022: European Federation for Primatology/Gesellschaft für Primatologie, Arnhem, Netherlands
2021: Animal Behaviour Twitter Conference, ASAB & ABS, Twitter
2020: Primate Society of Great Britain Winter Meeting, Virtual
2019: European Federation for Primatology/Primate Society of Great Britain conference, Oxford, UK; Lancaster Conference on Infant and Early Child Development, Lancaster, UK; Scottish Primate Research Group Annual Meeting, The Burn, UK
2018: Biotweeps Twitter Conference
2016: International Primatological Society Congress/American Society of Primatologists, Chicago, USA; Evolang, New Orleans, USA; Scottish Primate Research Group Annual Meeting, UK 2015: ASAB Summer Conference, Lincoln, UK

Posters Presented  

2022: Joint Conference on Language Evolution, Kanazawa, Japan
2021: LGBTQ+ STEMinar, Virtual/Oxford, UK
2019: Science Research Staff Conference, University of York, UK; ASAB Easter Meeting, University of York, UK
2017: 61st Primates Conference, Japan Monkey Center, Japan
2016: Chimps in Context, Chicago, USA


2021: IBANS Winter Meeting, University of St Andrews, UK
2017: Save the Elephants Society lecture series, University of St Andrews, UK
2016: St Leonard’s College Lecture Prize (Lecture series) University of St Andrews, UK; Behavioural Discussion Group, University of St Andrews, UK
2015: IBANS Early career researcher symposium, University of St Andrews, UK; Psycholoquia, 3rd year PhD presentation, University of St Andrews, UK; International Summer School of Scotland (ISSOS) Guest Speaker, University of St Andrews, UK
2014: Psycholoquia, 2nd year PhD presentation, University of St Andrews, UK


University of York
Lecturing, Second year undergraduate (May 2019)
Tutorials, Third year undergraduate (October 2017)  

University of St Andrews
Sutton Trust Summer School, Secondary school students (July 2016)
Lecturing and Practicals, Second year undergraduate (April 2016)
TA for Psychology 1, Second year undergraduate (Autumn 2014)  

Quest University Canada
TA for French 1 & 2, undergraduate (2010-2011)    


I have conducted research in Costa Rica (5 months), Democratic Republic of the Congo (18 months), Uganda (8 months), Indonesia (11 months), and the UK (16 months). This has included long-term observational research of people, bonobos, chimpanzees, Sulawesi crested macaques, mantled howler monkeys, black-handed spider monkeys, and white-faced capuchins; and experimental research with Sulawesi crested macaques, and mothers and children in the UK and Uganda.  

Professional, Departmental, and University Service

I am Communications Officer for the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB) from 2020-2025, and am responsible for managing the society’s social media (@asab_tweets), newsletter, website, and general communication. I’m also an organizer with the Animal Behaviour Collective (ABC), working to organize microgrants and mentorship for animal behaviour students. I have reviewed articles for PeerJ, Journal of Language Evolution, Animal Cognition, International Journal of Primatology, Gesture, Biology Letters, Frontiers in Psychology, Ethology, and Interaction Studies. I have also reviewed a book proposal for Springer Japan, and grant applications for NSF and Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft. I have assisted with conference organization for the ASAB/ABS Animal Behaviour Twitter Conference #AnimBehav2021; ASAB’s virtual Summer and Winter Meetings 2020, and Easter Meeting 2019 in York; the European Federation for Primatology/Primate Society of Great Britain conference 2019 in Oxford; and ESPP16 conference 2016 in St Andrews. Finally, I coordinated the Bioacoustics journal club in St Andrews from 2014-2016, and the Joint Attention journal club in York from 2017-2020.

Community Outreach

2022: Interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week, Episode: “Old battles, New Warfare”; Science & Sorcery, The 10th Annual Cielarko Pride Festival Drag Dragon Drag Race
2021: Wild Life Drawing Online: Bonobos; Video interview on the Dissenter; Featured on BBC Two “Chris Packham’s Animal Einsteins”, episode and online game
2020: Podcast interviews on W.E.E. Podcast & Bisexual Brunch; “5-Minute science” video, by Pint of Science and Huawei (Online); Girls Got STEAM video interview; York Festival of Ideas, Discovery Zone (Online activity); I’m a Scientist, Stay at home; Psych!York/YorNight
2019: Sixth Form Conference at York Psychology; Soapbox Science; Psych!York; Pint of Science; Skype a Scientist
2018: Skype a Scientist; Primary school video exchange about primate research
2017: Biotweeps Host; Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, volunteer; Skype a Scientist; Bright Club, academic stand-up comedy (Edinburgh)
2015: Bright Club, academic stand-up comedy (St Andrews
2014: Bright Club, academic stand-up comedy (St AndrewsDundee, Edinburgh); Public lectures, Campbell River and Quadra, Canada
2013: “Bonobo day” at Quadra Island elementary school, Canada


2018: Primate Society of Great Britain (2018-present)
2016: Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (2016-present)
2015: International Primatological Society (2015-present)
2013: Scottish Primate Research Group (2013-present)

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