Dr. Wright has made major contributions in the biology, ecology, conservation and behavior of living primates. She discovered a new species of lemur, Hapalemur aureus in 1987 and helped establish Madagascar’s Ranomafana National Park in 1991 to protect it. Her research concerns focus on behavior, senescence, parasitology, predation, rainforest ecology, climate change and conservation studies of Malagasy lemurs. Patricia Wright earned a BA from Hood College in 1966 and a PhD in Anthropology from City University of New York in 1985. Dr. Wright has led over 40 field expeditions to Peru, Paraguay, East Malaysia, the Philippines and Madagascar. She has held professional appointments at Duke (1983-91) and Stony Brook Universities (1991-2014) and is the Executive Director of the Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments at Stony Brook University (1992-2014) and the Founder and International Director of the Centre ValBio Research Campus at Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar. She has authored over 150 scientific publications and has received many high honors. She is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2004) as well as other professional associations. She was awarded a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (1989-1994), a "Knight of the National Order" in 1995, the “Officier Medal” in 2003 and the “Commandeur Medal” in 2012 by the government of Madagascar.  Other awards include the Hauptman Woodward Pioneer in Science Medal (2008), Distinguished Primatologist Award from American Society of Primatology (2008), honorary degrees from Hood College and the University of Antananarivo and a Distinguished Alumnae Award from Hood College (2008). In 2012, and again in 2014 she has been selected as one of six finalists for the internationally recognized Indianapolis Prize for Conservation. Her books include “Madagascar: Forests of our Ancestors”, “Tarsiers: Past, Present and Future”, and “High Moon over the Amazon: My Quest to Understand the Monkeys of the Night.” Dr. Wright was a member of the National Geographic Society Committee for Research and Exploration, and NGS Conservation Trust. She continues to be on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Duke Lemur Center, a member of the Madagascar Fauna Group  and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Species Survival Commission (IUCN SSC) Primate Specialist Group. Her work has been featured in the film “Me and Isaac Newton” directed by Michael Apted (1999) and IMAX’s  “Island of Lemurs: Madagascar 3D” directed by David Douglas (2014). Dr. Wright was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 2013.

Field Work

Research in Peru, Paraguay, Malaysia, Philippines, Madagascar

Selected recent projects in Madagascar:

2011 - present

Research on the ecology of infectious disease and the interface between wildlife and the villages near Ranomafana National Park (Funded by the Research Foundation of SUNY and private donors)

2010 - present

Program Director for Stony Brook University summer study abroad in Madagascar

2009 - 2029

Spearheaded the acceptance of Ranomafana National Park as a TEAM (Tropical Assessment Monitoring) site (Funded by Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation through Conservation International)

2007 - 2010

PI on "Senescence in Wild Lemurs" concentrating on mouse lemurs and sifakas in Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar (Funded by the National Science Foundation)

2003 - 2006

Co-Principal Investigator on the NIH project "Drug Discovery and Biodiversity Conservation in Madagascar (Integrated Conservation of Biodiversity Group Program)

2002 - 2007

Principal Investigator on the project "Modeling Deforestation in the Rainforests of Madagascar", combining cultural anthropology and tropical biology (Funded by Interdisciplinary Sciences grant from David and Lucile Packard Foundation)

2000 - 2004

Organizing and managing the biodiversity science component of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites' Natural Sites and United Nations Foundation project (in collaboration with Madagascar National Parks)

1998 - 2004

Coordinating Earthwatch Institute UK African Countries Biodiversity Training


Organizing International Primatology Society Developing Countries PreCongress Program at Ranomafana National Park

1993 - present

Organizing the coordinating the Stony Brook University fall semester study abroad in Madagascar

1993 - 2009

Conducting and overseeing biodiversity surveys in Midongy du Sud, Vondrozo, Karianga, Ranomafana National Park, and Kalambatritra Reserve

1993 - 1998

Coordinating USAID University Linkage with Developing Countries Program (UDLP) in Madagascar

1986 - present 

Conducting research in Madagascar on behavioral ecology, demography, population genetics, aging, parasite loads, ontogeny, and behavior of Propithecus edwardsi, the Milne Edwards sifaka. Designed and executed one fo the few longitudinal databased for wild primates, including the 24 year study of four groups that are followed ever month