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April 29, 2015

MSU’s Kay Holekamp earns prestigious honor

One of the world’s leading behavioral ecologists, Michigan State University’s Kay Holekamp, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Holekamp, University Distinguished Professor of zoology, was one of 197 new members, including some of the world’s most-accomplished scholars, scientists, writers, artists, and civic, business and philanthropic leaders.

The 2015 class also includes Pulitzer Prize-winner Holland Cotter, singer-songwriter Judy Collins, Nike co-founder Philip Knight, Nobel Prize-winner Brian Kobilka, Tony Award-winner Audra McDonald, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and novelist Tom Wolfe.

“I was both thrilled and shocked to be elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; thrilled because its membership includes so many of my own heroes and heroines in the arts and sciences, and shocked because this is such an extraordinary group of people that I have a hard time imagining myself joining their ranks,” Holekamp said. “I look forward to meeting some of them at the induction ceremony in Boston in October.”

Holekamp, with her long-running hyena study, has accumulated more than 25 years of data, covering nearly 10 generations, of spotted hyenas. She focuses on animal behavior and behavioral endocrinology, as well as the evolution of sexual dimorphism, with a focus on spotted hyenas in the wild.

She and her students have published more than 150 scientific papers, recently earning coverage for research on how social status has an impact on the overall health of mammals and how animal scent can convey an encyclopedia of information.

Holekamp has earned numerous awards over the years, including being named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Fellow of the Animal Behavior Society and many more.

“We are honored to elect a new class of extraordinary women and men to join our distinguished membership,” said Don Randel, chair of the academy’s board of directors. “Each new member is a leader in his or her field and has made a distinct contribution to the nation and the world. We look forward to engaging them in the intellectual life of this vibrant institution.”

Since its founding in 1780, the academy has elected leading “thinkers and doers” from each generation, including George Washington and Benjamin Franklin in the 18th century, Daniel Webster and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the 19th, and Margaret Mead and Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 20th. The current membership includes more than 250 Nobel laureates and more than 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.

By: Layne Cameron

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