Caitlin O Connell

Visiting Assistant Professor


I am interested in how organisms respond to ecological fluctuations behaviorally and physiologically. I completed my Ph.D. at Boston University in 2018 where I studied the costs and benefits of sociality in wild Bornean orangutans. I examined how changes in fruit availability influenced social behavior, stress and intestinal parasite infection, and how the interaction among these factors change over the lifespan with reproductive status. I am currently assessing the physiological impact of fruit scarcity on these critically endangered apes and examining changes in health over the lifespan and between the sexes. 


 B.S., Cum Laude, Biology - Loyola College in Maryland, Baltimore, MD

Ph.D., Anthropology - Boston University, Boston, MA 

Selected Publications

O’Connell, C.A., DiGiorgio, A.L., Ugarte, A., Brittain, R.S., Naumenko, D., Utami Atmoko, S., and Vogel, E.R. 2021. Wild Bornean orangutans experience muscle catabolism during episodes of fruit scarcity. Scientific Reports, 11, 10185. 

Knott, C.D., Kane, E.E., Achmad, M., Barrow, E.J., Bastian, M.L., Beck, J., Blackburn, A.B., Breeden, T.L… O’Connell, C.A., Philp, B.J., Rahman, E., Riyandi, Robinson, N., Scott, A.M., Scott, K.S., Mitra Setia, T., Setiadi, W., Setiawan, E., Sumardi, I., Rodriguez Suro, R., Tamariska, W., Emery Thompson, M., Susanto, T.W. 2021. The Gunung Palung Orangutan Project: Twenty-Five Years at the Intersection of Research and Conservation in a Critical Landscape in Indonesia. Biological Conservation, 255, 108856. 

O’Connell, C. A., Susanto, T. W., & Knott, C. D. 2020. Sociosexual behavioral patterns involving nulliparous female orangutans (Pongo sp.) reflect unique challenges during the adolescent period. American Journal of Primatology, 82(11), e23058. 

Knott, C. D., Scott, A. M., O’Connell, C. A., Scott, K. S., Laman, T. G., & Susanto, T. W. 2019. Possible male infanticide in wild orangutans and a re-evaluation of infanticide risk. Scientific Reports, 9(1), 7806. 

O’Connell, C.A. & DeSilva, J.M. 2013. Mojokerto revisited; Evidence for an intermediate pattern of brain growth in Homo erectus. Journal of Human Evolution, 65, 156-161. 

Book Chapters

Knott, C.D., Scott, A., O’Connell, C.A., & Kane, E. 2021. Field and laboratory analysis for non-invasive wildlife and habitat health assessment and conservation In: Conservation Technology. First Edition. Edited by Serge A. Wich and Alex K. Piel, Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780191885471.003.0007



Faculty Status