Spotted Hyena, Crocuta crocuta, photo by Dr. Jaime Tanner

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.


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)

Dr. Holekamp Receives AAAS honor, featured on MSUToday


Kay was one of 4 MSU faculty elected as a AAAS fellow for 2012. She was featured on MSUToday's FACULTY CONVERSATIONS section describing the award. http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2012/faculty-conversations-kay-holekamp


Kay and the other 2012 fellows will be recognized for their contributions to science and technology at the Fellows Forum to be held on 16 February 2013 during the AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts


Read more about the The American Association for the Advancement of Science at http://www.aaas.org/aboutaaas/


Dr. Holekamp awarded the Smith College Medal


Kay was awarded the Smith College Medal by her alma mater September 2012. She is one of five who will be celebrated during Smith College "Rally day" 2013. For more information about the medal and medalists, see http://www.smith.edu/newsoffice/releases/NewsOffice12-044.html


For more about the Smith College Medal, see http://www.smith.edu/events/rallyday_medal.php


Kay interviewed for the VSI podcast


Kay's is interviewed for episodes #32 and #33 of the variationselectioninheritance (VSI) podcast, a podcast about science funded by the NSF BEACON Center.

Alumna Jenn Smith an MSU "featured Fellow"


Former PhD student Jenn Smith was a fellow of the MSU graduate school while she was here.  The grad school has profiled here and mentioned here as a "featured fellow" on the MSU "support for students" blog:


Support For Students Feature on Jenn


Kay blogs for the New York Times


Kay Holekamp was invited to write blog posts to the New York Times "Scientist At Work" series.

BBC features Kate Shaw's photos, new publication by Jenn Smith


BBC News featured research by 2010 PhD Jennifer Smith, Kay Holekamp, and others regarding their work on spotted hyenas joining forces to cooperatively form a coalition. The article, published in the journal Behavioral Ecology, explains how these animals follow a surprisingly complex set of rules when making decisions about cooperation and how doing so provides them with an evolutionary advantage.

See images by doctoral candidate Kate Shaw in the BBC photo essay: 

Smith, et al, article in Behavioral Ecology:
Evolutionary forces favoring intragroup coalitions among spotted hyenas and other animals

Spotted Hyena Mother and Cub, by Kate Shaw 

Mini documentary of our field research via BBC


BBC came to the Mara and produced the following short film about our research and hyenas. It aired in 2008 as part of the BBC's "Big Cat" series.

The above video requires Adobe Flash

For this and other videos about Lions, Hyenas and other wildlife in the Masai Mara, visit the BBC Big Cat series video archive http://www.bbc.co.uk/bigcat/video/

Dr. Holekamp named University Distinguished Professor


The MSU Board of Trustees has formally announced that Kay Holekamp has been named a University Distinguished Professor - the highest honor that the university can bestow on a member of its faculty.




The title of University Distinguished Professor (UDP) recognizes outstanding achievement in teaching, research, and public service.



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


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