15 Professors of Animal Behavior To Know

Why do animals do what they do? From how creatures rear their young to why they choose their mates, animals have unique ways of dealing with the world around them. Animal behaviorists and psychologists study the patterns of thought and action that allow creatures to avoid dangers and obtain the resources to survive. And, by learning the minds of these animals, many of these experts believe we can understand the human brain better. These 15 professors are the groundbreakers who are developing bridges between the animal and human psyche. While some specialize in animal-human bonds, others are finding new ways to map the most fundamental behaviors common to all living beings. 

John P. Swaddle

John P. Swaddle

College of William & Mary

Dr. Swaddle is a noted lecturer both in the US and in the UK. He is the prior Dean of Graduate Studies and Research at the College of William and Mary, and is the most senior member of the three national Members-at-Large of the ABS and the Chair of the ABS Research Grants Committee. His major research focuses on how human land use affects bird species. He currently teaches Introduction to Organisms, Ecology, Evolution and Sexual Selection.

Mark E. Hauber

Mark E. Hauber

Hunter College

Dr. Hauber's research focuses on the evolution and ecological contexts of animal behavior, specifically in relation to parasitic bird populations who steal others' nests. He recently published an article in the nationally-recognized Nature magazine about his extensive publication experiences - Hauber publishes an article at the rate of one paper every 1-2 weeks. He is also active in the ABS, and is the Program Officer-Elect for 2016.

Emília Martins

Emília Martins

Indiana University - Bloomington

Dr. Martins is a professor of Biology at the Center for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior at Indiana University. Her research on the evolution of complex behavioral traits (such as communication and social behavior), has earned her a place amongst the elite in her field. She is the current President-Elect of the Animal Behavior Society (ABS) in addition to teaching Mechanisms of Behavior at the college. Her research group also developed the COMPARE technology, which allows researchers to apply phylogenetic comparisons to data.

Daniel Rubenstein

Daniel Rubenstein

Princeton University

Dr. Rubenstein is a professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in addition to his responsibilities as the Program Director of African Studies at Princeton. An active speaker and presenter, he has been featured on ScienceDaily, USA Today, and during the American Zoological Association (AZA) National Conference. His research focuses on animal decision-making processes, specifically in horses, zebras, and donkeys. He is also the current Past President of the ABS.

William Eberhard

William Eberhard

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute - Panama

Dr. Eberhard is well-known in the animal behavior science community for his cutting-edge research and commitment to his students. His recent research with reproductive selection in animals (such as parasitic wasps) has been very well recieved. He has been published in journals such as Animal Behaviour and the Journal of Evolutionary Biology. He recently won the ABS Distinguished Teaching Award, mostly for his inclusion of students in field studies and professional-level research mentorship. 

Bonnie V. Beaver

Bonnie V. Beaver

Texas A&M University

Dr. Beaver teaches Animal Behavioral Medicine at TAMU in addition to outside activities as the Executive Director of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB) and President-Elect of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). She is a celebrated speaker, with over 250 invited presentations and media appearances. In addition, she has written over 150 scholarly articles and nine books about animal behavior. She has been nationally recognized for her work, including the 2001 Friskies PetCare Award in Animal Behavior.

Melissa Bain

Melissa Bain

University of California - Davis

Dr. Bain is a professor and the Chief of Service for the Clinical Animal Behavioral Science program at UC-Davis. She is very active in professional organizations, as is a Past President of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB) as well as the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB). She teaches courses in domestic animal behavior and mentors residents in addition to continued research about training methods and their impact on dogs-human bonding.

Daniel T. Blumstein

Daniel T. Blumstein

University of California - Los Angeles

Dr. Blumstein is a prolific researcher and writer in addition to his work as a professor and Chair of the Department of Ecology and Biology at UCLA. He is a previous Editor of Animal Behavior (2006-2009) and is the current Biology Editor of Evolution: This View of Life. He's on several other editorial boards, including Behavioral Ecology, Biology Letters, and Ethology. He was a panelist at the While House Summit on Environmental Education (2012) and won the W.D. Brown Distinguished Teaching Award from the ABS in 2010.

David Miller

David Miller

University of Connecticut

Dr. Miller has been recognized for his innovation in teaching in addition for his unique research on parent-offspring auditory interactions in bird species. His superior mentorship earned him the The National Psi Chi Florence L. Denmark Faculty Advisor Award “for outstanding contributions to Psi Chi and psychology" (1989). In addition, he received the ABS Distinguished Teaching Award (2012) and the Campus Technology Outstanding Innovator Award in Podcasting (2007), having produced 84 screencasts (30 hrs total viewing) for his Animal Behavior course to date. He also served as the Editor-in-Chief of Bird Behavior for 15 years. 

Rudolph Jander

Rudolph Jander

University of Kansas

Dr. Jander is one of the most well-known experts on animal behavioral mechanisms, specifically in regards to locations and directions. His recent research published in Animal Cognition focuses on honeybees and their understanding of place and communication of resources. He has very high standards for his students, and his unique style earned him the ABS Distinguished Teaching Award (1996).

William Searcy

William Searcy

University of Miami

Dr. Searcy is a distinguished professor of Ornithology at the University of Miami, in addition to many professional activities outside of the college. He is the Executive Editor of Animal Behavior, one of the pre-eminent peer-reviewed publications in the field. He was also the Associate Editor for Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. He has been on several national advisory boards for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and is currently the Second President-Elect of the ABS.

Alexandra Basolo

Alexandra Basolo

University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Dr. Basolo is a national expert on ecology and evolution of swordtails, platyfish, and hermit crabs. In addition to teaching and mentoring students at UNL, Basolo has developed outreach programs at Henry Doorly Zoo, the Colorado Museum of Natural History in Denver, and Princeton University. Her dedication to student learning and integration of technology in her courses earned her the Animal Behavior Science (ABS) Distinguished Teaching Award in 2014.

Molly E. Cummings

Molly E. Cummings

University of Texas - Austin

Dr. Cummings teaches Principles of Animal Behavior at the University of Texas in addition to directing the Cummings Lab for animal communications research. Her work with surfperch species in adaptive light sensing was featured in Perspectives on Animal BehaviorIn addition, she was part of an international research investigation into the evolutionary morphology of Strawberry Poison Dart Frogs which earned a $71,000 grant from the NSF. Cummings is also the 2015 Treasurer for the ABS.

Michael D. Beecher

Michael D. Beecher

University of Washington

Dr. Beecher teaches Animal Behavior and Evolutionary Psychology at the UW. In addition, he continues to produce research results in his chosen field of bird song, animal communication methods, and bioacoustics. He is a regular publisher in journals such as Animal Behavior and Behavioral Processes and has published several textbooks on communication and language. He also is the Chief Program Officer for the ABS.

Susan G. Friedman

Susan G. Friedman

Utah State University

Dr. Friedman from USU brings a unique human perspective to each of her animal behavior courses. Initially working with applied behavior analysis in children with behavior disorders, she has been an innovator in applying human behavioral techniques to animals in human care. She was a member of the federal California Condor Recovery Team and has authored several vital veterinary text chapters on animal learning. She currently teaches online courses via her website, www.behaviorworks.org. Friedman also serves as an Advisory Board Member of the American Humane Association’s Scientific Advisory Committee (AHA).

Methodology

Each of the members on this list have been chosen through careful research based on the following criteria:

  1. Active Teaching. All of these professors are actively teaching or mentoring students at an accredited college.
  2. Publication. Many of these professors have been published in online or print professional journals.
  3. Thought Leadership. Professors on this list have been chosen due to their leadership in the Animal Behavior and Psychology community, based on speaking engagements or research contribution.
  4. Extracurricular Involvement. Each of these individuals are involved in both teaching and extra-collegial engagements such as advocacy programs, volunteer work, and leadership in professional associations.
Barry Franklin (Editor)

Barry is the Managing Editor of VetTechColleges.com, operated by educational web publisher Sechel Ventures Partners LLC, which he co-founded. Previously, Barry served as a VP at a Silicon Valley software company. In addition to running editorial operations at Sechel, Barry also serves on the Board of Trustees at a local K-8 school, and graduated from Carnegie Mellon University. He presently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his family and their black maltipoo.