Dr. Lisa O’Bryan received her B.S. in Zoology from Texas A&M University and her Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior from the University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on the role communication plays in the structure and function of social groups (both animal and human) and also how the dynamics of these groups and their broader environment affect communication patterns.
For her Ph.D., she studied the foraging, social and communication behaviors of chimpanzees through observational field studies and captive experiments. For her first postdoc, she received a James S. McDonnell Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship in Studying Complex Systems and joined the New Jersey Institute of Technology to develop and use wearable tracking devices for studying the role communication plays in the collective behavior of free-ranging animals, including wild baboons and domesticated herds.
In addition to her research, she has worked as a lecturer of Animal Behavior at NJIT and Barnard College and of Comparative Physiology at Princeton University. As a Rice Academy Fellow, Dr. O’Bryan will be extending her knowledge and experience towards the study of real-world social networks in humans. Working under the mentorship of psychologist Dr. Margaret Beier and Electrical Engineer Dr. Ashutosh Sabharwal, she will use wearable devices to characterize face-to-face networks in humans to study the factors that lead to differing network properties and their effect on individual well-being, group coordination and decision-making. This opportunity will not only enable Dr. O’Bryan to provide a unique perspective on human behavior but also gain experience in the application of her knowledge and skill set towards improving human society.
Outside of work, Dr. O’Bryan enjoys camping and exploring the outdoors, running and focusing on wellness, and enjoying a good cappuccino.