Dr. Kenneth Schweller ’68, professor of computer science and psychology at Buena Vista University in Iowa has been appointed chair of the board of the Great Ape Trust. The trust is a scientific research facility in Des Moines, dedicated to understanding the origins and future of culture, language, tools and intelligence, and to the preservation of endangered great apes in their natural habitats. Great Ape Trust, announced in 2002 and receiving its first ape residents in 2004, is home to a colony of seven bonobos, including Kanzi, “the world’s undisputed ape-language superstar, was the first of his species to acquire language as children do: by being exposed to it,” according to the trust. Scientists at the trust are involved with the apes in noninvasive interdisciplinary studies of their cognitive and communicative capabilities
Schweller, who majored in English at Wesleyan, received his Ph.D. in experimental psychology from the University of Illinois. He teaches courses in artificial intelligence, software engineering, compiler theory and programming languages at Buena Vista.
As chair of the Great Ape Trust, he will be integral in a new partnership formed this year, between Great Ape Trust and Bonobo Hope, located in Des Moines. The collaboration will be an international fund-raising effort to support bonobos around the world.
In a press release on the partnership, Schweller said: “It is an honor and a privilege to work with two such dedicated organizations. I feel confident that by working together we will raise the money we need to ensure our bonobo friends a brighter tomorrow.”