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Smith, Jenn


  • B.A. in Biology with a concentration in Environmental Science, Colby College
  • M.S. in Integrative Biology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Ph.D. in Zoology, Michigan State University, 2010 


Jenn Smith studies the behavioral ecology of social rodents and carnivores

Jennifer E. Smith received her B.A. in Biology from Colby College in Maine. She pursued her M.S. in Integrative Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with Dr. George O. Batzli where she performed a landscape-scale field experiment to demonstrate the effects of habitat fragmentation on dispersal and mortality in the prairie vole. 

As a P.E.O. International Scholar and University Distinguished Fellow, she went on to complete dual Ph.D. degrees in Zoology and in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior in the lab of Dr. Kay E. Holekamp at Michigan State University. Her dissertation work involved living in a tent for a year in Kenya and elucidated the evolutionary and ecological forces shaping cooperation in fission-fusion societies of spotted hyenas. 

As an Association of University Women Fellow and an Institute for Society and Genetics Fellow, her postdoctoral research focused on the behavioral endocrinology of yellow-bellied marmots in the lab of Dr. Daniel T. Blumstein in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of California Los Angeles

Jenn now teaches animal behavior, ecology, marine biology, and vertebrate biology as an Associate Professor of Biology at Mills College in Oakland, California. She also heads-up a long-term project of her own, the Long-term Behavioral Ecology Study of California Ground Squirrels. Although she spends most of her time studying the social lives of squirrels these days, her intellectual curiosity for uncovering the evolutionary forces favoring social evolution in mammalian carnivores is as strong as ever.