With a darted spotted hyena in the Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

News and Updates

As of January 2014, I am an assistant professor in the Department of Zoology and Physiology at the University of Wyoming! I am currently looking to recruit enthusiastic and motivated graduate students. If you are interested in joining us, please check out our prospective students page!

Lisa Barrett, Sarah Daniels, and Lauren Stanton joined the lab as Ph.D. students in Fall 2014. Welcome Lisa, Sarah and Lauren!


1) The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences just published our research investigating the relationship between relative brain size and problem-solving abilities in Mammalian carnivores. A pdf of that paper is available here. A video summary of that work can be viewed here.

You can also see a video summary and story about this research that was published in the New York Times here.

2) A summary of our work with hyenas and the implications of that work for theories on the evolution of intelligence was published in a special issue of Animal Behaviour.

3) Our work demonstrating the social learning abilities of wild and captive spotted hyenas was published in Behavioural Processes.

4) Our work showing huge differences between captive and wild hyenas when tested on the same cognitive task has been published in Animal Behaviour.

You can read a press release describing this work here.

A video showing the wild and captive hyenas working on the problem was published with the paper and can be viewed here:

2) My paper with Dr. Kay Holekamp on innovative problem solving in spotted hyenas was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society: B.

Check out the following links to see the hyenas in action! First, here's a video of a complete trial of a successful wild hyena (appropriately named Einstein).  (link) 

Second, here's a video showing examples of several different wild hyenas interacting with the puzzle box. (link)

3) A paper with Virginia Heinen, Sean Dryer and Dr. Kay Holekamp in Animal Behaviour shows that spotted hyenas assess the number of intruders they encounter in their territory and only engage opponents when they outnumber them.


Our research on innovative problem solving in wild hyenas has received a lot of press coverage. Here are some highlights:


The Billings Gazette created a cartoon representing our research!

Our recent paper in Animal Behaviour was covered by many news outlets, including:

I was interviewed on NPR's Morning Edition. The interview included my recordings of spotted hyena vocalizations. You can listen to it by clicking on the logo below.

My work with Dr. Kay Holekamp on innovative problem solving in spotted hyenas has been covered in a few publications, including: