I am an Associate Professor in the Psychology and Philosophy Department at Sam Houston State University. The time I spent at Gombe National Park, Tanzania (Africa), observing chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) from the Kasekela community, shaped the way I view the primate mind, communication in human and non-human animals, and the methods we use to study social cognition. During my time at Gombe I was able to observe the profound effects of the absence of the mother on two orphan adolescent infants. Observing these effects I became deeply interested in the essential elements present in the mother-infant interaction that have an effect in the development of the infant. I believe that touch is one of the ways we can measure this interaction; through touch, human and non-human mothers can help infants develop joint attention and basic emotions at an early age. Understanding the moral status of chimpanzees became inescapable after spending time with them. In particular, I am interested in the relationship between research and the moral status of chimpanzees. © Maria Botero
I continue to work on the research questions described above, but I am also starting a series of projects with colleagues from different disciplines in an attempt to explore proximal modes of interaction in different species:
- Touch: mother-infant in chimpanzees and calf-mother in dolphins. We are exploring issues related to the design of a methodology that focuses on touch; the challenges and benefits that are brought forth by focusing on this mode of communication; and the differences in researching this mode of communication among terrestrial and marine social animals.
- Touch: human and non-human primates. We are exploring the similarities and differences in proximal modes of interaction between mother/caregiver-infant interactions in human and non-human primates.