Wielding a machete isn't a skill most professors must rely on while conducting their research. Dr. Mary Glenn, however, isn't most professors. Mary spent over a decade combing some of the world's remotest jungles as she studied primates. Mona monkeys in Nigeria, Cameroon and Grenada; bonobos in Congo; spider monkeys in Costa Rica; stump-tailed macaques in Mexico...
These days you'll find Mary right here, on the Humboldt State campus, where she's well known for her riveting anthropology lectures. One of her specialties? Forensic science. Like many physical anthropologists, Dr. Glenn possesses a keen understanding of human anatomy. That knowledge has enabled the professor to assist local authorities in identifying human remains in several cases.
"I've called Mary on a number of occasions," says Humboldt County Coroner, Frank Jager. "She narrows down the possibilities for us: the victims age, gender, height, whether or not trauma's been inflicted… She's just tremendously helpful."
Mary's primary research focus, however, continues to be primate behavior and evolution. To that end, she still conducts field research and has authored and co-authored scores of peer-reviewed articles on primate evolution and behavior. As the Director of Humboldt State's Biological Anthropology Research Lab, Mary takes a group of Humboldt students to study monkeys in Costa Rica every summer. It's a unique opportunity for undergraduates to hone their field research techniques.
"The great thing about Humboldt State," says Glenn, "is that everyone here really values the importance of applied learning. Many of my students take a class one semester and then go out and practice what they learned the next, either in a working laboratory, in our community, or in other countries. And it's not just my students who are taking that opportunity—I see students in every department doing that. It's inspiring."