Patricia C. Wright
Primatologist and Conservationist
Durham, North Carolina
Age: 45 at time of award
Published August 1, 1989
Patricia Wright is a primatologist who is devoted to the study of lemurs in their natural habitat in rain forests around the world, and to preserving biodiversity.
She has done fieldwork in South America and Madagascar, and is expanding our knowledge of rare species, our theoretical understanding of the origins of primate society, and our commitment to conservation. Her studies have focused on primate monogamy, ecology, communication, parental care, and sexual selection in lemurs. In 1986, Wright discovered a rare species of lemur, the greater bamboo lemur, thought to be extinct, as well as a new species, the golden bamboo lemur, in a Madagascar rainforest. Since then, she has devoted herself to an urgent conservation effort to save these bamboo lemurs, among the world’s most endangered creatures.
Wright is a professor of anthropology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and the director of the Ranomafana National Park in Madagascar. She has built up a major research operation in Madagascar; and in 2003, she spearheaded the construction of Centre ValBio, an international training center for the study of biodiversity. She is the editor of Tarsiers: Past, Present and Future (2003) and the author of High Moon Over the Amazon: My Quest to Understand the Monkeys of the Night (2013) in addition to numerous articles.
Wright received a B.A. (1966) from Hood College, Frederick, Maryland, and a Ph.D. (1985) from the City University of New York.
Last revised March 26, 2014.