Man scuba diving

#PolicyProfile: Bing Lin, Ph.D. STEP

Nov 26 2021
By Staff

I wanted to get the real-world research and policy chops to play a more active role in the lives of my monkeys and coral reefs.

I have scuba-dived for a long time—always that kid with sandy feet and salty hair. I remember going to the Similan Islands in Thailand with my mom and chemistry teacher in high school, goggling at manta rays and beautiful coral gardens for a week straight. It felt like ‘Finding Nemo’ in real life, a surreal experience that has always stuck. It just so happened that after college at Princeton, I returned to Thailand on a Princeton in Asia teaching fellowship and began dive-guiding on weekends at the same exact place I had gone to when I was a kid. Only, this time, it was a coral graveyard. 


The damage came from global stressors like climate change and ocean acidification, but also local ones, from over pollution to overfishing to damage by boats, tourists, and divers.
Bing Lin

In the water, and on my boat ride home, I remember thinking, ‘Wow, we really have a huge impact on the world.’ This was my personal ‘aha’ moment. After teaching in Thailand, I moved to Ethiopia to conduct behavioral fieldwork on gelada monkeys, an Old-World primate species endemic to the Ethiopian highlands and valleys and nowhere else in the world. I lived in a tent for a year, immersed in the lives of my gelada herd — Jane Goodall style, recording everything the monkeys did: what they ate, who they interacted with, where they ranged, and more. That year invigorated me to pursue the applied policy side of conservation research — here at SPIA as a Ph.D. student. On-the-ground behavioral fieldwork is fundamental to research and fantastic fun, but change at scale needs interdisciplinary policy support to truly make a difference and impact the world. I’m here hoping to get that ability.

A man scuba diving





At SPIA, We Care

Our Community

We are committed to ensuring that all members of our diverse community feel respected, supported, and valued both inside and outside the classroom. We seek to strengthen the capacity of our students to promote equity and foster inclusion while here and in the broader world.