Meet a Tutor: Caley

Caley Johnson

Zinc tutor and teacher Caley Johnson graduated cum laude from the University of Connecticut with a B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. She did her doctoral work in Biological Anthropology at City University of New York and was a Postdoctoral Researcher at Arizona State University’s Center for Evolution and Medicine and School of Human Evolution and Social Change. Caley’s research on the biology and conservation of primates has included observing wild monkeys in Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, and Ethiopia with the support of numerous prestigious grants.

Caley also teaches courses in physical anthropology, evolution of the human species, primate ecology, and conservation at Fordham University, where she was selected by students as one of the “must-take” professors of 2019.

Caley places a GPS tracking collar on an anesthetized baboon in Uganda.

This spring, Caley teaches our ACT Math and Reading MasterClasses. We asked Caley about quarantine, teachers, and the college process.

What’s one thing that’s been getting you through the pandemic?

I adopted a puppy (basset hound mix) named Cheeks in April 2020. She’s kept me busy. She gets me up early for breakfast. I walk her three times a day; usually twice to the dog park. She has lots of toys and loves to play. She’s smart and I feel like I have a toddler.

Who was your favorite teacher and why?

Ive had several wonderful teachers in my life starting with a high school teacher named Dr. Christopher Doyle (I still need to reach out to him to thank him!) I took a class titled “Humanities” with Dr. Doyle, and it changed the way I think about the world through levels of analysis, e.g., individual, familial, and institutional. He was previously a college professor and he conducted class in a style that later I realized was similar to a university course. In college, Dr. Felix Coe invited me to do research with him. He was a member of an indigenous tribe in Nicaragua and would return to hang out with the shaman and collect medicinal plants. Dr. Coe offered me the opportunity to do pharmacological analysis of those plants and publish papers with him. (I have emailed him to thank him!)

What do you wish someone had told you when you were going through the college process?

From my experience as a college student and now as a college professor, I’ve found that the outcome of your college experience will be what you make of it. Essentially every college, whether public or private, high or low ranking, will have some fabulous departments, professors, and opportunities. No matter where you attend, you should try to forge relationships with your professors through class participation (think recommendation letters), and you should see which professors and departments give students opportunities for research, internships, publications, scholarships, etc. Seek out those people and departments to take classes and work with!  

Find out more about Caley’s research:

The Key To Your Health: Cover story in New Scientist, May 2020

Baboon Dads Facilitate their Kids’ Feeding, Behavior Scientific Journal, May 2020

Our Five Appetites: Interview on Irish National Radio, October 2020