Alexander Weiss, Ph.D.

Conservation & Science
Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes
  • Ph.D. – Psychology, University of Arizona
  • M.A. – Interdisciplinary, California State University, Long Beach
  • B.A. – Psychology, California State University, Los Angeles

Areas of Expertise

  • Personality in nonhuman primates and other species
  • Aging
  • Physical and psychological health in nonhuman primates
  • Behavior genetics
  • Multivariate statistic


Alex began his research career as an undergraduate studying non-associative learning in sea anemones. He later studied taste aversion in leopard sharks while completing a master’s degree that combined psychology and biology.

His interest in great apes developed while he was studying for his Ph.D. in Psychology. He used data collected as part of ChimpanZoo, a program of the Jane Goodall Institute, to investigate the genetic bases of personality traits in zoo-housed chimpanzees. Prior to completing his Ph.D., Alex began collecting personality and wellbeing data on orangutans housed at zoos in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Singapore. This began an international research program on the evolutionary origins of personality, which continues today.

Alex was a post-doctoral researcher at the Laboratory of Personality and Cognition, a part of the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health. There, he studied how personality traits affected physical and psychological health in high-risk elderly populations. After his post-doctoral training, Alex became a Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Edinburgh, where he spent 18 years pursuing research in human and animal personality.

Of his accomplishments, he is most proud of mentoring students on a range of topics. Seeing them succeed as university researchers, zoo staff members, or in other pursuits brings him great joy.

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