Mini Watsa

Senior Scientist, Field Projects International

Mrinalini (Mini) Watsa is a wildlife biologist studying conservation biology through investigations of tropical disease ecology, animal behavior, and wildlife health, with a focus on utilizing genetics and genomics via portable field laboratories for in situ investigations. Previously, she had been a Visiting Assistant Professor in physical anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis where she managed the Primate Molecular Ecology Laboratory, but now she is the Bud Heller Fellow at the San Diego Zoo Institute of Conservation Research. Mini was also a co-founder of Field Projects International back in 2009, where she remains a senior research scientist. She is also an avid science writer (see examples of her work here and here), and a member of the Global Forest Reporting Network. You can visit her professional page here

Areas of Research:

  • Reproduction, survival, and development in free-ranging populations of tamarins in southeastern Peru (Dissertation research)
  • Extent of genetic chimerism present in wild populations of Callitrichids, as linked to life history traits (Postdoctoral research)
  • How variation in color vision effects visual and olfactory foraging preferences in New World Monkeys
  • Natural origins of Tuberculosis and Leprosy: A comparative study of mycobacteria among modern day humans, ancient human populations, and wild animal populations in South America.
  • Interspecific vocal divergence and sexual signals in sympatric tamarins

Selected Publications:

  • Watsa, M., Wildlife Disease Surveillance Focus Group, 2020. Rigorous wildlife disease surveillance. Science; 369 (6500): 145-147 DOI: 10.1126/science.abc0017
  • Watsa, M., Erkenswick, G.A., Pomerantz, A. and Prost, S., 2020. Portable sequencing as a teaching tool in conservation and biodiversity research. PLoS Biology, 18(4), p.e3000667.
  • Watsa, M., Erkenswick, G. and Robakis, E., 2017. Modeling developmental class provides insights into individual contributions to infant survival in callitrichids. International Journal of Primatology, 38(6), pp.1032-1057.
  • Watsa, M., Erkenswick, G., Halloran, D., Kane, E.E., Poirier, A., Klonoski, K., Cassalett, S., Maciag, E., Mangalea, M.R., Dinsmore, M.P. and McCready, H., 2015. A field protocol for the capture and release of callitrichids. Neotropical Primates, 22(2), pp.59-68.
  • Watsa, M., Erkenswick, G., Rehg, J. Leite Pitman, R. 2012. Distribution and new sightings of Goeldi’s monkey (Callimico goeldii) in Amazonian Perú. International Journal of Primatology 33(6): 1477-1502