COCC to Host 2015 American Society of Primatologists Conference

COCC ASP CommunityBy Matthew Novak, Ph.D.
Psychology Department

I attended my first American Society of Primatologists conference in 1994 in Seattle when I was an undergrad just beginning my new career as a scientist. We were hosting the conference that year, so I served on the local arrangements committee in charge of social events. I was just a kid, having fun. Being in charge of social events meant I got to make sure the DJ passed muster and we would be able to dance all night long. Now, 21 years later, ASP along with the Society for Research in Child Development has become my major professional affiliation. I have had an entire career in primatology working with animal models of human development, more specifically acute and chronic effects of prenatal psychological stress on fetal and early infant development. I came to COCC 3.5 years ago to begin my new career as a teacher, and I find myself again on the local arrangements committee for ASP. This time as host. The parallels between these two experiences 21 years apart are not lost on me.

My intention, coming to a community college to teach, was to work to improve how scientists communicate with the general public. Similar to how ASP was there to get me started in my research career, I find it following me again to support me in this new interest. ASP has never been hosted by a community college before, and, while the society has a standing committee dedicated to education, never before has the focus of the conference been so decidedly education. This year, the conference will be offered as a class, Education 299, through COCC for K-12 school teachers needing continuing education credits, and Education 500 through Southern Oregon University. It is also being offered as a class through the Community Learning Department of COCC for those who do need or desire credit.

I appreciate the role that ASP has played supporting my career development. I feel fortunate to play the role of local host and am again blessed that COCC is so supportive of this opportunity. My students and colleagues are working hard to give a little back to the society that has meant so much to my professional development. At the same time, bringing ASP to Bend and to COCC allows me to support the college community where I have chosen to conduct my second career.

We have an excellent lineup of invited speakers and an exciting interdisciplinary symposium! More information about the meeting is available on the ASP website:

Interdisciplinary Symposium:

Social Networks and Biological Networks in Primates

Keynote Address

Louise Barrett, Ph.D.

Canada Research Chair, University of Lethbridge

Author of books on primate cognition, human mind and evolutionary psychology

Past ASP President's Address

Dorothy M. Fragaszy, Ph.D.

University of Georgia, Athens

Studies wild tool-using capuchin monkeys in Brazil, and in laboratory studies of spatial cognition, perception and action

2014 Distinguished Primatologist

Charles T. Snowdon, Professor Emeritus

University of Wisconsin Madison

Applies research results from tamarins and marmosets to humans; research on mate choice and hormonal aspects of couple's relationships. How does cooperative breeding foster the cognitive skills underlying cooperative behavior more generally and how this may have led to the evolution of cooperation in humans.

2013 Legacy Award Winner's Address

Julienne N. Rutherford, Ph.D.

University of Illinois at Chicago

Studies human and non-human primate gestational and developmental biology in ecological and evolutionary contexts. Primate placenta is a signaling interface between mother and fetus; how does placental function shape fetal brain development in primates?

Matthew Novak, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor II of Psychology at Central Oregon Community College. He received his Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the University of Washington and has been at COCC since 2011.