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Cortni Borgerson

Associate Professor, Anthropology

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Dr. Cortni Borgerson is an anthropologist, primatologist, conservation biologist, and National Geographic Explorer. Her work explores why people choose to hunt endangered species and looks at how this hunting affects human health and lemur and other wildlife conservation. Dr. Borgerson’s recent research has demonstrated the importance of understanding human incentives when designing conservation policy. Subsistence hunting and child malnutrition are widespread in rural Madagascar, and a household’s food security can often best predicts whether or not they decide to trap endangered primates. In some of her study communities, as much as three-quarters of the meat they eat, and half of their protein and iron, comes from forest animals - demonstrating how much healthy food systems and ecosystems depend on one another. Therefore, Dr. Cortni Borgerson is working hard to better understand and improve both conservation and public health outcomes in areas of high biodiversity, so that we may simultaneously support forests and the endangered species and human communities who live within them.

Dr. Borgerson is fluent in Malagasy, manages an active field team of 15 research staff and numerous interventions to improve food security and reduce unsustainable hunting in Madagascar, including programs on endangered lemur hunting, poultry, and the edible native insect, Zanna tenebrosa (Sakondry; Bacon Bugs). In addition to her field research and active development interventions, she runs Full Forests, serves as a board member for numerous NGOs, and is a commission member for the Madagascar Section of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (SSC) Primate Specialist Group. She teaches numerous courses, including: Introduction to Physical Anthropology (ANTH101); Human Culture for Biodiversity Conservation (ANTH165); Planetary Health (ANTH404/504); Primate Behavior and Ecology (ANTH402/502 at the zoo!); and Primate Research Methods (ANTH403/503 at the zoo!).

2015-2017. Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University.
2015. Ph.D. University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts.
2005. B.A. Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.



Madagascar, Biological Anthropology, Endangered Species Hunting, Lemur Conservation, Primatology, Planetary Health, Community Livelihoods and Conservation.

Research Projects

Data-driven solutions to reducing the unsustainable hunting of threatened species

We are working to understand the incentives for endangered species hunting and to design and test data-driven, community lead, interventions to improve both the sustainability of hunting and household food security.

Lemur hunting in Madagascar

We have been working across Madagascar for the last 15 years to better quantify and understand lemur hunting and its effects on both endangered primate communities and local health and well being.

Zanna tenebrosa: A nutrient-rich edible insect tool for addressing child malnutrition, food insecurity, and unsustainable hunting

We are working with local communities across central Africa to increase the production of the traditional native edible insect, Zanna tenebrosa - sakondry or the bacon bug, to improve human nutrition, food security, and wildlife conservation.

Prospective Students

Dr. Borgerson is always looking for motivated students to join her lab! If you are interested in pursuing graduate research in Madagascar, please contact her at