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Communication NAT Award

Nat Award 2018

Dr. Frans B. M. de Waal

‘s-Hertogenbosch (Netherlands), 1948

Is a Dutch/American ethologist and biologist known for his work on the behavior and social intelligence of primates. His first book, Chimpanzee Politics (1982) compared the schmoozing and scheming of chimpanzees involved in power struggles with that of human politicians. Ever since, de Waal has drawn parallels between primate and human behavior, from peacemaking and morality to culture. His scientific work has been published in technical articles in journals such as Science, Nature, Scientific American, and outlets specialized in animal behavior. His popular books – translated into over twenty languages – have made him one of the world’s most visible primatologists. His latest books are The Bonobo and the Atheist (Norton, 2013) and Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? (Norton, 2016).

De Waal is C. H. Candler Professor in the Psychology Department of Emory University and Director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, in Atlanta, Georgia. He is also Distinguished Professor at Utrecht University. He has been elected to the (US) National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences. In 2007, he was selected by Time as one of The Worlds’ 100 Most Influential People Today, and in 2011 by Discover as among 47 (all time) Great Minds of Science.

His latest research concerns empathy and cooperation, inequity aversion and social cognition in chimpanzees, bonobos, and other species. He and his students have pioneered studies on how behavior is culturally transmitted in the primates, whether elephants recognize themselves in mirrors, how primates react to unequal reward divisions, how well primates spontaneously cooperate, and whether bonobo orphans are as emotionally affected by their trauma as human orphans.