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World-first research centre celebrates 10th anniversary

mnk

3 Dec 2018

An Edinburgh research centre studying the links between humans and primates celebrated its 10th anniversary on Thursday.

The Living Links to Human Evolution Research Centre is a field station and research centre of the University of St Andrews, established in partnership with the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) and Edinburgh Zoo, and a SFC grant of £1.6 million to fund its construction.

The centre hosts capuchin and squirrel monkeys, and scientists from the Scottish Primate Research Group (SPRG), which includes universities of St Andrews, Stirling, Edinburgh and Abertay, and the RZSS.

The centre was officially opened in 2008 by world leading primatologist Dr Jane Goodall DBE and Professor Sir Michael Atiyah, Past President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Royal Society, with Fiona Hyslop, the then Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning in attendance. At the time it was considered to be the world’s first research centre in a zoo to be focused on monkeys.

University of Glasgow Professor Alan Miller, who chairs the centre’s managing board at Edinburgh Zoo described the centre as a “widely recognised exemplar for science and public engagement in science internationally”.

“The SFC investment a decade ago has been a phenomenal success in many ways; scientific output, funding, particularly from the European Research Council (ERC), public outreach, REF impact, and international collaboration. Since its opening it has attracted over £5 million in ERC grants along with many smaller awards and its research outputs have enhanced the reputation of its participating universities around the world."

He also paid tribute to Professor Andrew Whiten of St Andrews university who first conceived of the centre.

“As well as publishing early landmark papers on chimpanzee behaviours in Africa jointly with Jane Goodall, Andy has won many awards and honorary degrees, including the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) Life Sciences and Public Engagement awards, with his RZSS and Living Links work central to these honours.”

SFC Assistant Director Morag Campbell who attended the 10 year anniversary event on Thursday said it was great to see the centre still going strong.

“On behalf of SFC I can say we are very proud to have been able to help in the making of the centre, and it is great to see that it continues to thrive. Ten years is a fantastic milestone and the team are to be congratulated for all they’ve done to promote excellence in research and public engagement.”