I am a Professor in the Department of Anthropology at San Diego State University where I teach and mentor undergraduate and graduate students.


As an anthropologist, I am interested in the multifaceted ways human and nonhuman primate histories, ecologies, lives, and livelihoods intersect. As such, most of my research falls within the realm of ethnoprimatology. Ethnoprimatology, the study of human-nonhuman interconnections, was first coined by ecological anthropologist Leslie Sponsel who envisioned a fruitful space where primate ecology and human ecology could come together. My work focuses primarily on the interface between humans and macaque monkeys (Macaca spp.) and draws from primate ecology, conservation biology, environmental anthropology, and human-animal studies. My recent research has been funded by the Wenner Gren Foundation, National Geographic Society/Waitt Foundation, the American Institute for Indonesian Studies, and San Diego State University.


I am committed to advancing ethically-informed field primatology and played a leading role in developing the 2014 Code of Best Practices for Field Primatology that has been approved by the American Society of Primatologists and the International Primatological Society.


In 2018, I was elected to serve as Treasurer on the Board of Directors for the American Society of Primatologists (ASP). The ASP is an educational & scientific society devoted to expanding our knowledge about nonhuman primates and advancing their conservation. I also joined the Editorial Board of the American Journal of Primatology (AJP) – the top-ranked journal in primatology (2018 impact factor: 2.288).


My other passion besides fieldwork is dance! I regularly take classes in hip hop, jazz funk, island fusion, and contemporary at Culture Shock Dance Center and Body’s in Rhythm, and have been fortunate to perform at local community events in San Diego. Check out the video of our recent performance at Chula Vista Harborfest!


Riley in the field, Sulawesi, Indonesia

Moor macaques. Photo: Iskandar Kamaruddin.

Moor macaques. Photo: Iskandar Kamaruddin.

Riley with park rangers, Pak Haro (left) and Paisal (right) in Bantimurung Bulusaraung National Park.

Riley with park rangers, Pak Haro (left) and Paisal (right) in Bantimurung Bulusaraung National Park