Lydia M. Hopper, PhD

Associate Professor

BSc University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK, 2004
PhD University of St Andrews, St Andrews, UK, 2008


Dr. Lydia M. Hopper is the Director of Behavioral Management, and an Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular and Comparative Pathobiology, at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Her research explores the ways in which an individual’s behavior and decision making is influenced by their social environment. Dr. Hopper studies how different species, including humans, innovate and learn from others. Taking a comparative research approach allows her to assess both within- and between-species differences in order to examine the underlying mechanisms and functions of observed behaviors. Dr. Hopper applies her understanding of behavior and cognition to enhance captive animal care and welfare, and to help improve research model validity.

Throughout her career, Dr. Hopper has studied animal cognition and welfare in a variety of settings, including research facilities, zoos, and sanctuaries. For her graduate and postdoctoral training, Dr. Hopper was based at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Michale E. Keeling Center for Comparative Medicine and Research, where she studied chimpanzees, rhesus macaques, and squirrel monkeys. The findings of this work offered new insights into primate social learning, cooperation, and responses to inequity. From 2012-2021, she worked at Lincoln Park Zoo’s Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes. There, she directed studies of primate behavior and cognition through a public-facing research program run with chimpanzees, gorillas, and Japanese macaques. Through her work at Lincoln Park Zoo, and via a collaboration with Chimp Haven, Dr. Hopper and her colleagues developed and evaluated a number of novel techniques for assessing primate welfare, which can be applied across settings and species.