Jungle adventure for Aston student

9 May 2007 – for immediate release

A psychology student from Aston University has just started the experience of a lifetime as she travels to work with one of the world’s leading evolutionary scientists at Harvard University.

Rowena Yeats, who is currently in her placement year studying Human Psychology, has just set off for an amazing experience to work with eminent language evolution scientist Marc Hauser at Harvard in the USA.

She may even get the chance to spend some time on a tropical island.

Rowena explains: ‘Marc’s team carry out research on how rhesus monkeys communicate on Cayo Santiago, which is a small island off the coast of Puerto Rico. There’s a chance that after I’ve spent some time at Harvard I can nip over to the island!’

But this won’t be the first time she’s ventured into the jungle.

‘Before I came to Aston, I worked for a gap year company for three years,’ she says. ‘We organised three-six month expeditions in the Malaysian Borneo jungle, which included diving and other activities. This placement will allow me to combine my love of psychology with my jungle experience.’

Dr Carl Senior, who is Rowena’s tutor, is delighted about her placement. ‘Marc Hauser is a close collaborator with Noam Chomsky, so she will be working with two of the world’s leading experts in the evolution of language in terms of human and non-human primates,’ he said.

‘She will bring that expertise back to Psychology and the School of Life & Health Sciences and put links in place between Harvard and Aston that could benefit future students in terms of teaching and placements.

‘It’s a very exciting opportunity and I think Rowena is being very modest about the skill set that she will take to Harvard. Marc Hauser obviously sees what an asset she is going to be to his research.’

Rowena arranged the placement herself after learning about Hauser’s work in lectures last year.

‘We were given a very open piece of coursework so I chose to study his work in more depth,’ she said. ‘There were a couple of aspects I didn’t really understand so I found an email address for him and contacted him directly and he was really helpful. When I was planning my placement I knew I wanted to go abroad and working with Marc seemed ideal. So I contacted him again and that’s how the placement was arranged.’

Marc Hauser said: ‘Rowena will be involved in a set of experiments aimed at understanding the evolution of two domains of human knowledge, language and morality,’ he explained.

So what does Rowena want to get out of her the placement?

‘I love travelling so I just want to spend some time in a new country, meet some new people and hopefully that will lead onto other experiences and qualifications,’ she said.

‘My long term career aspirations change from day to day but some kind of consultancy based language and communications work would be great, although I haven’t come across the exact job title yet!’


For further press information please contact Sally Hoban on 0121 204 4552.


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