Dr. Povinelli

Professor | Department of Biology | University of Louisiana

Daniel J. Povinelli is Professor of Biology at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. After studying as an undergraduate at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst where he received his B.S. in Anthropology with a minor in Zoology (1986), he studied Physical Anthropology and earned his doctorate from Yale University (1991). His primary interests have centered on the characterization of higher-order cognitive functions in great apes and humans.

He is the recipient of a National Science Presidential Young Investigator Award, the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Award for an Early Career Contribution to Psychology, and a one million dollar James S. McDonnell Foundation Centennial Fellow prize. 

His research has been featured on numerous news outlets including CBS News, ABC News, Public Radio International, BBC TV and radio, PBS, as well as in several documentaries, including Martin Scorsese’s Surviving Progress, Morgan Freeman’s Through the Wormhole, Alan Alda’s The Human Spark, National Geographic’s Human Ape and Animal Minds, BBC/Nature’s The Monkey in the Mirror, Dutch Public Broadcast, And Apes Became Men and many others.

He is the author of 3 books and over 130 scientific papers. He continues to conduct research and publish in areas relation to animal cognition, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and the philosophy of agency.

Dr. Povinelli’s most recent work is a collaboration with Dr. Brandon Barker entitled, Confessions of a Former Monkey Mind Doctor. Featuring a retired comparative psychologist and the anthropomorphic projection of her inner ego (who just  happens to be a talking chimpanzee), Confessions is a seriously absurd attempt to convey the human condition in light of our hierarchies of knowledge and beings. The show debuted in November 2018 as  part of  Indiana University's Fall 2018 themed semester on the human-animal relationship.

Read an interview with Dr. Povinelli here.