Michigan State University’s Kay Holekamp Honored by the Animal Behavior Society

Kay Holekamp, a University Distinguished Professor in the department of integrative biology in the College of Natural Science at Michigan State University, has been awarded the 2019 Distinguished Animal Behaviorist Award from the Animal Behavior Society. The society is a professional organization dedicated to promoting and advancing the scientific study of animal behavior. Members of ABS study behavior across all levels of biological organization, under natural and controlled conditions.

Often referred to as the Jane Goodall of hyenas, Dr. Holekamp has focused her studies on spotted hyenas in Masai Mara, Kenya, for more than 30 years. Her research has shown that high-ranking members in spotted hyena clans, which are dominated by females, not only produce more offspring, but that their offspring have greater survival rates than lower-ranking members. Interestingly, she found that these high-ranking hyenas, which live longer and appear to be in better overall health also have longer telomeres, that is, caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect chromosomes from deterioration.

Dr. Holekamp joined the faculty at Michigan State University in 1991. She is a graduate of Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She earned a Ph.D. in psychobiology at the University of California, Berkeley.

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