An Evolutionary Approach to Collaboration

The Comparative HuMan and Primate Physiology (CHmPP) Center specializes in the development and application of minimally-invasive methodologies for integrating biological samples into research in the behavioral and health sciences. We are a BSL-2 laboratory with the capacity to conduct a wide range of assay and sample extraction procedures enabling the analysis of blood and blood spots, urine, feces, saliva, and hair, as well as plant and skeletal material. We serve as a center for student training and provide cost-effective fee-for-service work for a variety of collaborators in fields including human biology, anthropology, psychology, ecology, and the biomedical sciences.

The laboratory was originally established in the UNM Department of Anthropology in 2008 with the goal of integrating biomarkers with non-invasive observational and ecological field research on wild chimpanzees in Uganda. While our collaborative network has expanded, this remains a major part of our mission.



The Kibale Chimpanzee Project is conducting three long-term investigations:

  1. Evaluating the determinants of chimpanzee health in the wild and generating comparisons of the aging process between humans and our closest living relatives.

  2. Assessing nutritional, physical, and social development.

  3. Identifying pathways to leadership, including predictors of aggression and interactions between physiology and temperament 


The work in the CHmPP Center enables a broader scope for research on health and the human condition. Our researchers investigate how health and behavior have been shaped by our evolutionary past, and how they are influenced by the environments in which we live. This necessarily involves generating high-quality comparative data on closely-related species and on humans living in a diverse range of ecological settings -  data that can be scarce and difficult to acquire. Our Center focuses on innovative, interdisciplinary approaches that makes such research possible.


Principal Investigators

Melissa Emery Thompson, PhD
Director and Associate Professor of Anthropology

Martin Muller
Associate Professor of Anthropology

Sherry Nelson
Associate Professor of Anthropology

Ian Wallace
Assistant Professor of Anthropology