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Jessica Rivera ‘18
BS Human Evolutionary Biology, BA Anthropology

JRivera Jessica Rivera ‘18 wanted to study animal behavior in college, so when she was accepted in the College of Arts and Sciences at Stony Brook University,  widely known for its Anthropology program, the decision to enroll was not a hard one to make. “ I really like how all-encompassing anthropology is,” says Jessica. “Anything that involves people, from what we do to what our primate relatives did, has a place under the umbrella of anthropology. I think it gives a really interesting and important perspective.”

Deeply immersed in her major, Jessica has been a member of the Undergraduate Anthropology Society since her freshman year, joined the e-board as a sophomore, and is now president. She also participated in the Turkana Basin Institute Origins Field School study abroad program in Kenya. In addition, she worked in two labs during her time at Stony Brook, studying threespine stickleback evolution and bald eagle behavior. Her honors thesis focuses on the evolution of a specific population of fish after it moved from saltwater to freshwater habitats.

A University Scholar, Jessica has made the Dean’s List nearly every semester! The Department of Anthropology just notified her that she will be receiving an Outstanding Human Evolutionary Biology Student award at Commencement.

After graduation, Jessica plans to work for a year before going to graduate school in an Anthropology or Biology program with a focus on animal behavior. She is interested in researching animal culture, as well as animal communication and vocalization. “One of my main interests is studying how vocalizations vary between populations of animals and using it to study culture and learning in non-human animals,” she says. She would be interested in conducting research in the field or at zoos, and also teaching in higher education.

Jessica’s favorite aspect of the college experience has been the freedom that it has provided for her to explore, grow, and find her own path. She believes students should t rust that they themselves can make the right decisions. “College is the chance to do what you want and really be in control of your education for the first time, so if you know what you want to do just go out and do it!” she says. “Don't feel bad if your college experience doesn't exactly match up with everyone else's - if you're happy with your choices, that's all that matters.”

Outside of academics, Jessica is very outdoorsy and loves hiking. She is also an avid reader, and serve d as an out-of-area student mentor for incoming freshmen.

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