PHOTO: COURTESY THERESA LAVERTY ’10

Research assistant studying mountain ­gorillas in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda for the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthro­pology. Princeton major: ecology and evolutionary biology. 

What she does: Laverty spends 15 to 20 days each month collecting behavioral data on a group of 19 mountain gorillas. For four hours a day, she records feeding behaviors; intragroup relationships such as grooming, playing, and aggression; and mother-infant interactions.

Keeping her distance: Although she tries to stay a few yards away from the gorillas, sometimes they get closer. “Quite often they will walk by right in front of me. They can practically touch me.” The group’s silverback, who is about 350 pounds, “hit me two or three times early on just to kind of show me who is boss.” 

Most challenging: Field work in the rain. “Four hours of standing in the rain is quite cold,” she says. 

What’s next: Laverty, who found her job online, will work in Bwindi for about a year, and plans to apply to graduate school.