Bailey gains valuable research experience, earns Ph.D.


Submitted by: Andrea Bailey

Bailey records observations of two baboons in Tanzania, which she did as she followed them around.

Lucas Johnson, Sports Editor

Dr. Andrea Bailey recently received a doctorate degree focused on the behavior and character traits of primates.

“My particular degree requires a lot of fieldwork so I spent about a year and a half in Tanzania where I was collecting data and following baboons around,” Bailey said. Focused in primate behavioral studies, Bailey observed the behavior of baboons during mating season. For female baboons, their backsides turn a bright magenta color when they become pregnant. Bailey recognized this as a potential signaling tactic towards males who would fight for females.

“I ended up looking at male aggression towards females because I found that that was super common,” Bailey said. According to Bailey, during mating season, male baboons become increasingly more aggressive towards females and youth. The aggression towards females is a characteristic consistent with mating season. The aggression toward youth is a tactic to avoid confrontations with other aggressive males. In order to avoid fights, adult male baboons will carry youth into battle in hopes that the carrying of a young baboon will act as a sympathy mechanism to which other males will respond to by theoretically not participating in the fight.

My particular degree requires a lot of fieldwork so I spent about a year and a half in Tanzania where I was collecting data and following baboons around.”

— Upper School Science Teacher Andrea Bailey

As a biology teacher, having experience in the field, doing research and collecting data are crucial aspects in order to obtain conclusive results. Prevalent in Seminar in Advanced Science Research, the reading, analyzing, rereading, and reanalyzing of published papers and studies is a common practice. Bailey, having substantial experience in that type of research process, encourages students to use a strategy that she finds useful.

“When I was reading tons and tons of papers I found that if I didn’t write stuff down about them I forgot what they were about and I had to go back and reread them. So I started doing these things I call paper summaries were I would write down the salient points from each paper that I read so that I could actually go back and look at those as opposed to looking at the papers,” Bailey said, “So that’s something I have [my students] do when they’re in their process so that they don’t have to keep referring back to their papers.” Additionally, Bailey shares her research experience and story as a guest speaker for her Honors Biology students.

Bailey’s in-depth and lengthy doctorate experience has made her an informed expert in her research, and as a result, she has been able to share her research strategies, tactics, and advice liberally in her classes, making her lessons valuable to budding young biologists.

Read more stories on St. Paul Academy and Summit School teachers who have earned their Ph.D.s in the March issue, which will be available March 1.