Susan M. Jenks

Susan Jenks
Gurley Hall 403, Troy
[email protected]



I am a Professor with a joint appointment in Psychology and Biology at the Sage Colleges, Troy, NY. I received my B.A. in Biopsychology from Vassar College and my M.S. and Ph.D. in Biobehavioral Sciences from the University of Connecticut. I’ve done postdoctoral work at the UC-San Francisco, UCLA, and UC-Berkeley. My research has included social behavior and mating in timber wolves; development of social behavior in spotted hyaenas, conservation genetics of the red wolf, and the phylogenetics of the Hyaenidae.  I currently work on two main projects with students: 1) investigation of spotted hyena social behavior and dopamine receptor genetic profiles, and 2) the effect of a non-pathogenic bacterium, Mycobacterium vaccae, on anxiety in mice. I also study the social behavior of crayfish in response to light regimes. I recently returned from a sabbatical working in the field at Maasai Mara Wildlife Reserve in Kenya with colleagues from Michigan State University.

Susan Jenks in the field working with Timber wolves.

I have taught a variety of courses in both Biology and Psychology, including: Biopsychology, Introductory Psychology, Evolutionary Psychology, Motivation and Emotion, Animal Behavior, Neurobiology, Evolutionary Biology and Introductory Biology and Lab. I also work with the Sage CSTEP program teaching a summer Research Methods course and mentoring student research. My favorite part of my job is stimulating student inquiry!

Susan Jenks with a student from the CSTEP program.    Susan Jenks with a young students.

I have worked in a variety of university and educational settings including the Bronx Zoo, a county environmental education center, and management of an evolutionary genetics lab at the UC-Berkeley. I have also worked as a medical writer and a grant writer.

I love to do most anything outdoors, and enjoy travel, dancing, and reading.

Susan Jenks hiking.

Selected Publications

Matthews, D.M. & Jenks, S.M. (2013). Ingestion of Mycobacterium vaccae decreases anxiety-related behavior and improves learning in mice. Behavioural Processes, 96, 27-35

Jenks, S. M. 2011.  A longitudinal study of the sociosexual dynamics in a captive family group of wolves: The University of Connecticut Wolf Project. Behavior Genetics (Nov). Published online: 16 March 2011 doi 10.1007/s10519-011-9453-6.

Koepfli, K –P., S. M. Jenks, E. Eizirik, T. Zahirpour, B. Van Valkenburgh and R. K. Wayne. 2006. Molecular Systematics of the Hyaenidae: Relationships of a relictual lineage resolved by a molecular supermatrix. In:Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 38:603-620.

Jenks, S. M. and Werdelin, L. (1998). Taxonomy and systematics of living hyaenas (Family Hyaenidae). In: M.G.L. Mills and H. Hofer (compilers), Hyaenas status survey and conservation action plan. IUCN/SSC Hyaena Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. vi+154 pp.

Jenks, S. M., Weldele, M., Frank, L. & Glickman, S. (1995). Acquisition of matrilineal rank in captive spotted hyaenas: Emergence of a natural social system in peer-reared animals and their offspring. Animal Behaviour, 50, 893-904.

Wayne, R. K., & Jenks, S. M. (1991). Mitochondrial DNA analysis implying extensive hybridization of the endangered red wolf (Canis rufus). Nature, 351, 565-568.


Differential light treatment and social experience reverse crayfish agonistic behavior. Presented at the joint Annual Animal Behavior Society Meeting and Human Behavior and Evolution Society Meeting, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, June 10 – 15, 2012, oral paper.

Ingestion of Mycobacterium vaccae influences learning and anxiety in mice. Presented at the 2010 Animal Behavior Society Meeting,William and Mary College, Williamsburg, VA, July 25-30, 2010, oral paper.

Influence of photoperiod and social experience on crayfish agonistic behavior (two species). Presented at the International Ethological Congress, Rennes, France, August 19 – 24, 2009, oral paper and poster.

Influence of photoperiod, social experience and stress on crayfish agonistic behavior.  Presented at the International Neuroethology Congress, Vancouver, CA,  July 23 – 27, 2007, poster.

Influence of photoperiod and social familiarity on crayfish agonistic behavior. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Animal Behavior Society, Snowbird, UT, August 12 – 16, 2006, poster.