Professor, Psychology and Biology

Gurley Hall 403, Troy
[email protected]


Dr. Susan Jenks, an Associate Professor with a joint appointment in Psychology and Biology, began teaching at Sage in fall 2001. Her scholarly background and interests are in the interdisciplinary field of Biopsychology.

Before coming to Sage, Dr. Jenks received her B.A. in Biopsychology from Vassar College and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Biobehavioral Sciences from the University of Connecticut. She has done postdoctoral work at the University of California-San Francisco and at UC-Berkeley, where she was an NRSA postdoctoral fellow. Her research has included social behavior and mating in timber wolves; development of social behavior and stress response in spotted hyaenas (see photo); conservation genetics of the red wolf; and phylogenetics of the Hyaenidae.

She has worked in a variety of educational settings including the Bronx Zoo and a county level environmental education nature center, and she managed an evolutionary genetics lab at the UC-Berkeley Museum of Paleontology.

Dr. Jenks teaches Biopsychology, Motivation, Special Topics in Biopsychology (for example, Sex, stress and strategy: the evolution of reproductive behavior), Introductory Psychology, and other courses in both Psychology and Biology. She loves learning and teaching about behavior and the natural world, whether from the perspective of the estimated 100 trillion neuronal connections of the brain, to the role of kin selection in the evolution of social behavior, to the remarkable endocrinology of the female spotted hyaena. Her current research involves stress hormone profiles in neonatal and juvenile spotted hyaenas (Crocuta crocuta), and phylogenetics of the Hyaenidae.

Other interests include “hanging out” with her teen-age daughter, volunteering time in local schools for environmental education and science projects, many outdoor activities, dance for fitness (as opposed to performance), and learning the piano.

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.