Research in my laboratory focuses on mammalian behavioral development and its physiological substrates. My students and I are currently investigating how social, ecological, and endocrine variables interact during an individual's early development to influence its subsequent behavior and its reproductive success as an adult.



Forthcoming book on Mara Hyena Project


Author Sy Montgomery and photographer Nic Bishop are writing a book on Kay and the MSU Mara hyena project, to be called "The Hyena Scientist, " as part of their "Scientists in the Field" series. They recently spent several days at our Talek camp, watching hyenas with us, and interviewing project participants.

Kay elected to the AAAS


aaas logo

Kay Holekamp is one of 197 newly elected members to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences this year.   One of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies, the American Academy is also a leading center for independent policy research. Members contribute to Academy publications and studies of science and technology policy, global security and international affairs, social policy and American institutions, and the humanities, arts, and education.


Kay and her students have published more than 150 scientific papers, and has earned numerous awards over the years, including being named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Fellow of the Animal Behavior Society and many more.

For more information see this MSUToday article and this press release from the AAAS

BBC Features the Hyena Project


BBC Earth has a very nice feature story about hyenas based on our project titled "The Truth about Hyenas" by Henry Nicholls. We like the "Tweetable facts" section that includes things like "Spotted hyenas are not scavengers, but hunt down at least 50% of their own food."

Screen Shot of BBC article about hyenas

Kay's career featured in the Detroit Free Press


A really nice article about Kay and the history of her career was featured in the January 5th Detroit Free Press:

Pick your spots: Chance encounter leads MSU professor to career studying hyenas - By Ellen Creager



Dr. Kate Yoshida (formerly Kate Shaw) writing makes cover of the NYT Science section


Alumna Dr. Kate Yoshida (formerly Kate Shaw) has an article on the cover of the NYT Science section today titled A Symbol of the Range Returns Home

Congrats Kate!!   She also currently writes for Ars Technica ( link to profile)


Learn All About Hyenas from the IUCN Hyena family conservation website, sponsored and maintained by our lab.






Kay E. Holekamp

Professor, Department of Integrative Biology,
Program in Ecology, Evolution, Biology & Behavior (EEBB),
Michigan State University
B.A. Smith College, Northampton,MA
Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley, CA


Mailing Address

303 Natural Science Building

288 Farm Lane

Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1115

Office Phone: (517) 432-3691
Laboratory Phone: (517) 353-3771
Department Fax: (517) 432-278



Scientist At Work


Field Notes from Kenya


Research Supported by

National Science Foundation nsv.gov Kenya Wildlife Service (logo)
MSU Zoology


Please visit our Benefunder Page.