Dr. Parr received her PhD in Psychology at Emory University in 2000, under the direction of Dr. Frans de Waal, with a dissertation entitled “Understanding emotion in chimpanzees.” Since then, she has established a strong comparative research lab at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center examining social cognition in monkeys and apes, and also has worked with human infants and children with autism. Her research focuses broadly on how nonhuman primates negotiate their social environment, including how monkeys and apes recognize the faces of conspecifics and how they produce and perceptually categorization facial expressions. Some of her recent studies have focused on the nature of configural processing for faces, kin recognition, and facial expression categorization using standardized stimuli. The goal of these studies is to more completely understand the evolution of social recognition and emotional communication in primates.
Dr. Parr has also been involved in a collaboration with UK scientists to develop a coding system for measuring facial movement in nonhuman primates. This system is based on the well-known human FACS system developed by Paul Ekman.
She has received several awards in her career, including the Frank A. Beach Comparative Psychology Award from the American Psychological Association. Her work has received research funding from the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Science Foundation, the National Alliance for Autism Research, and the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience.