NYCEP Alumnus Profile

Elena Cunningham

Clinical Associate Professor Academic Coordinator New York University College of Dentistry


M.A. 1994, Hunter College Ph.D. 2003, City University of New York




Tel: (212) 998-9618

Fax: (212) 995-4867

Overview of Research

I am interested in understanding how the interplay between ecological and social factors have contributed to the evolution of primate cognition.  I am currently beginning a three-project on the foraging cognition of lemurs at the Lemur Conservation Foundation in Mayakka, Florida.  I have studied the use of memory in the ranging behavior of the black and white ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata) in Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar and in the foraging strategy of the white faced saki monkey (Pithecia pithecia) in Venezuela.


Cunningham, E.P., Unwin, S. and Setchell, J.M. (2015) Darting Primates in the field: A survey of practices and their impact on the primates involved. International Journal of Primatology 36(5): 894-915.

Cunningham, E.P. and Janson, C.H. (2013) Effect of fruit scarcity on use of spatial  memory in a seed-predator, Pithecia pithecia. International Journal of Primatology. 34:808-822. DOI 10.1007/s10764-013-9697-5.

Baker, E.W., Slott, P., Terracio, L. and Cunningham, E.P.  (2013)  An innovative method for teaching anatomy. Journal of Dental Education 77(11)1498-1807.

Cunningham, E.P., Harrison-Levine A and Robert Norman. (2013) Finding the Balance: Optimizing predator avoidance and food encounters through individual positioning in Pithecia pithecia during travel. In Evolutionary Biology and Conservation of Titis, Sakis and Uacaris, Studies in Biological and Evolutionary Anthropology Editors: Liza Veiga, Adrian Barnett, Marilyn Norconk, Steve Ferrari. Cambridge University Press, pp 272-276.

Cunningham, E.P. and Janson, C.H. (2007) A socioecological perspective on primate cognition, past and present.Animal Cognition 10:273-281.

Cunningham, E.P. and Janson, C.H. (2007) Integrating information about location and value of resources by white-faced saki monkeys (Pithecia pithecia) Animal Cognition 10:293-304.

Cunningham, E.P. and Janson, C.H. (2006) Pithecia pithecia’s behavioral response to decreasing fruit abundance. American Journal of Primatology 68: 491-497.

Kinzey, W.G. and Cunningham, E.P. (1994) Variability in platyrrhine social organization. American Journal of Primatology (34) 2: 185-198.