Kirsty Graham
Research Associate



My research focus is communication on non-human primates. I completed my undergraduate degree at Quest University Canada, during which I conducted research in Costa Rica on howler monkeys, spider monkeys, and capuchins. I then worked as a research assistant with wild bonobos at Wamba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, before beginning by PhD at the University of St Andrews. My PhD topic was gestural communication of wild bonobos – looking at the gestures they use and what those gestures mean. Bonobos deploy a large repertoire of gestures to achieve behavioural responses from recipients. I compared the gestures used by wild bonobos to wild chimpanzees at Budongo (with Catherine Hobaiter’s research), finding a large overlap in the gestural repertoire and meanings.


PhD, Psychology, University of St Andrews, UK, 2017



Joint attention in Sulawesi crested macaques and chimpanzees


I’m currently working on Katie Slocombe’s ERC funded project looking at joint attention in British humans, Ugandan humans, chimpanzees, and Sulawesi crested macaques. I will work for 20 months with the Sulawesi crested macaques in Indonesia and 10 months with chimpanzees in Uganda. We are working towards a large comparative study looking at how and when joint attention emerges in humans and whether it emerges at all in our primate relatives.


  • 2017 Gorilla Awards in Behavioural Science, Shortlisted ,
  • 2016 Russell Trust Award (Postgraduate), University of St Andrews
  • 2016 St Leonard’s College Lecture Prize, University of St Andrews
  • 2016 Grindley Grant for Conference Attendance, Experimental Psychology Society
  • 2014 Wenner-Gren Foundation Dissertation Fieldwork Grant. Used at University of St Andrews (2014-15)
  • 2013 600th Anniversary Doctoral Scholarship. University of St Andrews (2013-16)
  • 2012 Distinction for Keystone Paper. Quest University Canada
  • 2009 Outstanding Student of the Year. Quest University Canada (2009-10)       
  • 2008 David Strangway Award for Excellence, Full Tuition Scholarship. Quest University Canada (2008-12)


Dr Katie Slocombe


Selected publications

  • Byrne, R.W., Cartmill, E., Genty, E., Graham, K.E., Hobaiter, C., & Tanner, J. (2017) Great ape gestures: intentional communication with a rich set of innate signals.  Animal Cognition. DOI 10.1007/s10071-017-1096-4 [published online]
  • Ryu, H., Graham, K.E., Sakamaki, T., & Furuichi, T. (2016). Long-sightedness in old wild bonobos during grooming. Current Biology, 26, R1-R3.
  • Tokuyama, N., Moore, D.L., Graham, K.E., Lokasola, A., & Furuichi T. (2016). Cases of maternal cannibalism in wild bonobos (Pan paniscus) from two different field sites, Wamba and Kokolopori, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Primates, 58(1), 7-12
  • Graham, K.E., Furuichi, T., & Byrne, R. (2016). The gestural repertoire of the wild bonobo (Pan paniscus): a mutually understood communication system. Animal Cognition. 20(2), 171-177. DOI: 10.1007/s10071-016-1035-9

Contact details

Kirsty Graham
Research Associate
Department of Psychology
The University of York
York, YO10 5DD
Room PS/B212

Tel: 01904 324650