My name is Shasta Webb and I am a PhD trainee at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. I am originally from Santa Cruz, California, where most of my family still lives.
In 2013, I received my Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota under the supervision of Dr. Scott Legge. My undergraduate honours project explored human-non-human primate interactions with a focus on white-faced capuchins (Cebus capucinus imitator).
In 2016, I moved to Calgary, Alberta to begin a Master of Arts program in Biological Anthropology at the University of Calgary. Under the supervision of Dr. Amanda Melin, I completed my MA in 2017. My MA thesis focused on how wild, white-faced capuchin monkeys at Sector Santa Rosa—located in the Área de Conservación Guanacaste, Costa Rica—cope with increased energy costs associated with pregnancy and lactation.
In late 2017, I began my PhD—also with Dr. Melin—and I am currently working toward candidacy. My research focus has shifted to questions of plasticity in how animals cope with seasonal environments. Specifically, I investigate the potential short-term roles the gut microbiota of capuchins may play in helping them cope with changing environmental resources. In my PhD research, I combine behavioural primatology methods in the field with metagenomics methods in the laboratory to explore host-microbe symbioses and their connection to plasticity and adaptation in wild animal systems. I am interested in cultivating a career in research and am actively seeking connections for future collaborations and postdoctoral positions.
Outside of research, I’m passionate about bicycling in essentially every form. I am a (mostly) 4-season bike commuter in Calgary, and I spend the summers mountain biking and bikepacking whenever possible. In the past couple of summers, I have worked with Two Wheel View, a Calgary-based non-profit organization that uses bikes as tools to build resiliency in youth. I have led multiple youth bike tours for Two Wheel View in Alberta and British Columbia. I am also a budding sourdough bread baker, mild coffee nerd, and Oakland Athletics enthusiast—topics I will happily chat about with interested folks.