• Maryjka B. Blaszczyk, MBChB, PhD

    Postdoctoral Research Associate

    Department of Anthropology

    University of Texas at Austin

  • Dr. Maryjka Blaszczyk

    (pronunciation: MA-ray-ka BLASH-chick)

     

     

    I am an interdisciplinary scientist with broad training and research interests across the biological, social, and medical sciences.

     

    I earned a MBChB degree (South Africa’s equivalent of the U.S. 'MD') from the University of Cape Town, South Africa. While in medical school, I became interested in human and primate evolution, and additionally studied towards a BSc (Med) with a major in Anatomy. This work led to me to publish on gait parameters in Homo floresiensis together with Kit Vaughan. I relocated to the U.S. to begin postgraduate training in Biological Anthropology at New York University in 2007, and completed a MA in primate evolutionary genetics at NYU's Molecular Anthropology Laboratory.

     

    For my PhD, I switched focus to the evolutionary ecology of individual behavioral differences, or personality traits. My dissertation – 'Personality and Social Niche Specialization in Wild Vervet Monkeys' – examined the ecological correlates of variation in traits such as ‘boldness’, ‘reactivity’, and ‘sociability’ in vervets (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) in South Africa. I developed novel techniques to measure these behavioral traits in a field setting, using a combination of field experiments and naturalistic behavioral observations, and examined how personality was related to behaviors relevant to fitness, such as predator inspection, foraging behavior and spatial behavior.

     

    I am currently a postdoctoral researcher in the Primate Molecular and Ecology Lab in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin. My current research projects include working on a comparative study of sociospatial behavior and social network structure in ateline primates with Anthony Di Fiore.

  • PUBLICATIONS

    Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

    Blaszczyk M.B. 2017. Boldness towards novel objects predicts predator inspection in wild vervet monkeys. Animal Behaviour 123: 91-100. doi: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2016.10.01. PDF

     

    Vaughan C.L., Blaszczyk M.B. 2008. Dynamic similarity predicts gait parameters for Homo floresiensis and the Laetoli hominins. American Journal of Human Biology 20(3): 312-316. PDF

     

    Blaszczyk M.B., Vaughan C.L. 2007. Re-interpreting the evidence for bipedality in Homo floresiensis: research letter. South African Journal of Science 103: 409-414. PDF

    Book sections

    Blaszczyk M.B. Novelty Seeking in wild vervet monkeys. In: Cross-Disciplinary Research in Chlorocebus. Turner T., Cramer, J.D., and Schmitt, C.A., Eds. Cambridge Press. In press.

     

    Articles in review or in preparation

    Blaszczyk M.B. Consistency in social network position over changing environments in a seasonally breeding primate. In revision, Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.

     

    Blaszczyk M.B. The trouble with boldness: proactive and reactive responses to threat are not always opposite poles of the same trait. In prep.

     

    Blaszczyk M.B. The promise of personality research in wild primates. In prep.

     

    Published abstracts

    Blaszczyk M.B. 2017. Individual differences in spatial position during collective movements of vervet monkeys. Am J Phys Anthropol 162 (S64): 123-123.

     

    Blaszczyk M.B. 2016. Temporal stability in social network metrics among wild vervet monkeys. Am J Phys Anthropol 159 (S62): 97-97.

     

    Blaszczyk M.B. 2015. Boldness in wild vervet monkeys: individual differences and consistency across contexts. Am J Phys Anthropol 156 (S60): 88-88.

     

    Blaszczyk M.B. 2014. Novel object exploration in wild vervet monkeys. Am J Phys Anthropol 153 (S58): 80-80.

     

    Blaszczyk M.B. 2013. Measurement of individual differences in novelty seeking in wild vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus aethiops) using a group-based approach. Am J Phys Anthropol 150 (S56): 82-83.

     

    Vaughan C.L. & Blaszczyk M.B. 2007. Dynamic similarity predicts gait parameters for Homo floresiensis and the Laetoli hominins. Journal of Biomechanics 40: S40.

  • Curriculum Vitae

    Maryjka B. Blaszczyk

    CONTACT INFORMATION

    Mailing address: Department of Anthropology, University of Texas at Austin, 2201 Speedway Stop C3200, Austin, TX 78712

     

    E-mail: maryjka@utexas.edu

    EDUCATION

    2016 -- Ph.D. in Biological Anthropology – New York University (U.S.A.)

                Dissertation: Personality and Social Niche Specialization in Wild Vervet Monkeys

     

    2009 -- M.A. in Biological Anthropology – New York University (U.S.A.)

     

    2007 -- B.Sc. (Med) – University of Cape Town (South Africa) Major: Anatomy

     

    2006 -- M.B.Ch.B (equivalent to U.S. M.D.) – University of Cape Town (South Africa)

    With Distinction in the Pre-Clinical Examinations and the degree with First Class Honours

    APPOINTMENTS

    2016-present -- Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Anthropology, University of Texas at Austin

    2016 -- Adjunct Professor, Department of Anthropology, Texas State University

    2016 -- Postdoctoral Scholar, Department of Anthropology, Boston University

    2008 - 2013 -- Adjunct Instructor, Department of Anthropology, New York University

    GRANTS, FELLOWSHIPS AND AWARDS

    • Individual and Population Variation Pop-Up Institute Fellowship, University of Texas at Austin (salary for May 2017)
    • Ruppenthal Student Travel Award for annual meeting of the American Society of Primatologists, Bend, OR. 2015. ($500)
    • Sherwood L. Washburn Prize for podium presentation “Boldness in wild vervet monkeys: individual differences and consistency across contexts.” American Association of Physical Anthropologists annual meeting, St. Louis, MO. 2015. ($600)
    • American Association of University Women Dissertation Fellowship. 2013. ($20,000)
    • GSAS Dean’s Student Travel Award, New York University. 2013. ($500)
    • L.S.B. Leakey Foundation Research Grant. 2012. Temperament and social niche specialization in vervet monkeys. ($7,300)
    • Wenner-Gren Foundation Dissertation Fieldwork Grant. 2011 Temperament and social niche specialization in vervet monkeys. ($19,900)
    • International Primatological Society Research Grant. 2011. Temperament and social niche specialization in female vervet monkeys. ($1,500)
    • American Society of Primatologists General Small Grant. 2011. Temperament and social niche specialization in vervet monkeys. ($1,500)
    • Department of Anthropology, New York University, research grant. 2011. Temperament and social niche specialization in vervet monkeys. ($2,600)
    • NYCEP NSF IGERT Summer research grant. 2010. Participation in Vervet Monkey Genome/Phenome Project fieldwork and trapping. Multiple sites in South Africa. ($3,000)
    • NYCEP NSF IGERT Summer research grant. 2008. Research internship on comparative socioecology of monogamy in titi monkeys (Callicebus discolor) and saki monkeys (Pithecia aequtorialis) in Yasuni National Park, Ecuador. ($5,000)
    • Henry M. MacCracken Graduate Fellowship, New York University. 2007. (5 year scholarship and graduate stipend).
    • J. H. Louw Prize in Paediatric Surgery, University of Cape Town. 2005.
    • Entrance Merit Scholarship, University of Cape Town. 2000. (Complete medical school tuition scholarship for 3 years).
    • Stuttaford Scholarship, University of Cape Town. 2000 - 2002 (Supplementary scholarship awarded for academic performance).

    PUBLICATIONS

    CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS

    (Other than those with with published abstracts)

    • Blaszczyk M.B. Into the wild: behavioral variation in a natural primate population. 5th Annual Symposium in Big Data in Biology. University of Texas at Austin, TX. May 8, 2017 [Podium]
    • Blaszczyk M.B. & Di Fiore, A. Who forages where? Predictors of within-group spatial position in wild vervet monkeys. Annual meeting of the Texas Association of Biological Anthropologists, Austin, Texas, U.S.A. November 18 – 19, 2016 [Podium]
    • Blaszczyk M.B., Beebe S.C., Nasenbeny J.A., Haskew, P.J, & Di Fiore, A. Predictors of social foraging tactic use and within group spatial position in wild vervets, Chlorocebus pygerythrus. Joint meeting of the International Primatological Society and the American Society of Primatologists, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. August 22 – 26, 2016 [Podium]
    • Blaszczyk M.B. Foraging ecology of vervet monkeys in the Soetdoring Nature Reserve, South Africa. Annual Conference of the Primate Ecology and Genetics Group of South Africa, Addo, South Africa. July 8 - 10, 2016. [Podium]
    • Blaszczyk M.B. An ecological validation of the novelty-seeking trait in wild vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus). Annual Conference of the American Society of Primatologists, Bend, Oregon, U.S.A. June 17-20, 2015 [Podium]
    • Blaszczyk M.B. Consistency in boldness across contexts in wild vervet monkeys. 51st Annual Conference of the Animal Behavior Society, Princeton, New Jersey, U.S.A. August 9-14, 2014 [Poster]
    • Blaszczyk M.B. & Haunhorst C.B. Social behaviour and foraging ecology of vervet monkeys at Soetdoring Nature Reserve, Free State Province. Annual Conference of the Primate Ecology and Genetics Group of South Africa, Thaba Nchu, South Africa. June 29-July 1, 2012. [Podium]

     

    TEACHING

    Primary instructor

    2016 -- Primate Behavior. Department of Anthropology, Texas State University

    2013 -- Human Evolution. Department of Anthropology, New York University

     

    Adjunct instructor/teaching assistant

    2008 – 2013 -- Human Evolution. Department of Anthropology, New York University

    2010 – 2011 -- Human Origins. Department of Anthropology, New York University

    SERVICE AND OUTREACH

    2016 -- Mentor, “Using R for Biological AnthropologyWorkshop at the American Association of Physical Anthropologists annual conference, Atlanta, GA.

    2016 – 2017 -- ‘Girl Day at UT Austin’ – outreach festival showcasing STEM fields to K 1-12 girls in Austin, TX

    2015 – 2016 -- Community Science Fairs for ‘Hot Science, Cool talks’ at UT Austin

    2015 -- Participant, Working Group on “Ethoinformatics: Developing data services and a standard “etho-grammar” for behavioral research”. University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas.

    2013 -- Participant, Working Group on “Ethoinformatics: Developing data services and a standard “etho-grammar” for behavioral research”. Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri.

    2011-- Co-chair, Graduate student job search committee, Dept. of Anthropology, NYU

    2011-- Science Communication Workshop series, Carter Journalism Institute, New York University. Instructor: Steven Hall of the NYTimes.

    2010 -- Graduate student job search committee, Dept. of Anthropology, NYU

  • PhD project field assistants

     

    • Christine Haunhorst  - Ph.D. student in Dept. of Behavioral Ecology, University of Göttingen, Germany
    • Natasha Mazumdar - Ph.D. student in Dept. of Anthropology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, U.S.A.
    • Sarah Beebe - Ph.D. student in Dept. of Psychology, La Trobe University, Australia
    • Jordan Nasenbeny - M.S. student in Dept. of Neurobiology, Northwestern University, U.S.A.
    • Phillip Haskew - Primate Keeper, Phoenix Zoo

     

     

  • Contact

    e-mail: maryjka@utexas.edu

     

    Department of Anthropology

    University of Texas at Austin

    2201 Speedway Stop C3200

    Austin, TX 78712

  • Follow me on Twitter at @maryjkablas