Savage-Rumbaugh received her master of science and doctorate degrees from the University of Oklahoma, the latter in 1975, and went on to a storied career. As the first scientist to conduct language studies with bonobos, her work has redefined the boundaries between human and nonhuman primates, and has contributed greatly to the understanding of how humans think, learn and use language.
The honorary degree from Missouri State University was the second conferred upon Savage-Rumbaugh in recognition of her stellar career. The University of Chicago also conferred an honorary doctor of science degree in 1997 in recognition of the contributions of her research with bonobos and chimpanzees to education, conservation and the formulation of principles that have been applied to language-challenged children and young adults.
She joined Great Ape Trust in 2005 after a 30-year association with Georgia State Universitys Language Research Center, where her initial research involved a collaboration with two young chimpanzees, Sherman and Austin, which laid the experimental and philosophical foundation for her future work with bonobos, including Kanzi and his half sister, Panbanisha.
Savage-Rumbaugh retired as director of bonobo research in 2007 and assumed the position of Scientist with Special Standing, a designation Great Ape Trust founder Ted Townsend said recognizes her extraordinary contributions to ape language research. In her new role, she continues to do research with the bonobos at Great Ape Trust while expanding her research into other areas.
Selected excerpts from Dr. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh's acceptance speech: "I went into a field that was never anticipated at the time I graduated, a field that only came into existence in 1969, and a field that quickly became mired in debate. It is a field that has yet to make its true impact felt around the world, the field that came to b
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Great Ape Trust of Iowa