Barb Smuts has been fascinated by wild animals and places for as long as she can remember. Her parents fostered these interests by taking the family camping in New England and the American west throughout her childhood and by encouraging her to pursue a longheld dream to study wild chimpanzees with Jane Goodall. After training in anthropology as an undergraduate at Harvard with Irven DeVore and Robert Trivers, Barb pursued graduate study in Behavioral Biology with David Hamburg at Stanford Medical School. She observed adult female behavior in wild chimpanzees and spent several years studying social relationships in wild olive baboons in Kenya and Tanzania. She also studied wild bottlenose dolphins in Western Australia.
In recent years, Smuts has studied social behavior among domestic dogs, with a focus on play and the development of long-term relationships. Her publications include Sex and Friendship in Baboons, Primate Societies (a co-edited volume) and numerous book chapters and articles in scientific journals. She has also published several personal essays about her interactions with wild animals and her relationships with dogs. Barb recently retired from being a Professor of Psychology at University of Michigan to devote herself to dog research, dog photography, and writing a book about dog-dog social relationships.
Contributions to Humans & Nature:
- Nowhere to Go; Nothing to Do
A response to “How can zoos and aquariums foster cultures of care and conservation?”
- The Shy Baboon
A podcast from RadioLab featuring Barbara Smuts.