Conservation & Science Staff Bios

Carson Murray, Ph.D.

  Adjunct Scientist
Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology


  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Lincoln Park Zoo and University of Chicago – Maternal behavior, stress and offspring development in the chimpanzees of Gombe National Park, Tanzania
  • Ph.D. – Competition among female chimpanzees, University of Minnesota
  • B.A. – Biochemistry, University of Virginia

Area of Expertise

  • Chimpanzee behavioral ecology
  • Maternal nehavior
  • Offspring development
  • Behavioral endocrinology
  • Stress physiology

About Carson Murray:

Carson Murray received her B.A. in biochemistry from the University of Virginia in 1997. She served for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Endasak, Tanzania, during which time she made her first trip to Gombe Stream National Park to follow chimpanzees in the wild. She formally studied the Gombe chimpanzees for her dissertation research and received a Ph.D. in behavioral ecology from the University of Minnesota in 2006. Her dissertation work investigated the spatial and social correlates of female dominance rank and shed light onto some of the behavioral differences that may afford high-ranking females higher reproductive success.

Carson is now a fellow at the Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes at Lincoln Park Zoo. She leads a study that investigates how maternal behavior influences offspring success in the wild chimpanzees. This project combines the unparalleled 40-year (and growing) Gombe maternal behavior dataset that she co-supervises with non-invasively collected physiological data to address one of the most fundamental topics in our field: how parents influence their offspring. More broadly, it will provide much insight into our own development and the disturbing increase in anxiety-related human disease.

In addition to collaborations with Lincoln Park Zoo researchers including Elizabeth Lonsdorf, Ph.D., and Rachel Santymire, Ph.D., Carson continues her work on chimpanzee female social relationships. She works with Anne Pusey, Ph.D., and Ian Gilby, Ph.D. at Duke University to examine the benefits of female friendships. She also collaborates on paternal kin recognition research by Emily Wroblewski, Ph.D., at Stanford University.


Lonsdorf, E.V., Murray, C.M., Lonsdorf, E.V., Travis, D.A, Gilby, I.C., Chosy, J., Goodall, J., Pusey A.E. 2011. A retrospective analysis of factors correlated to chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) respiratory health at Gombe National Park. Ecohealth.

Wroblewski, E.E., Murray, C.M., Keele, B.F., and Schumacher-Stankey, J.C. 2009. Male dominance rank and reproductive success in chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii. Animal Behaviour, 77:873-885.

Murray, C.M., Lonsdorf, E.V., Eberly, L., and Pusey, A.E. 2009. Reproductive energetics in free-living female chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Behavioral Ecology, 20: 1211-1216.