Kay E. Holekamp

Kay E.   Holekamp
  • University Distinguished Professor
  • Integrative Biology
  • Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior Program


Kay Holekamp, professor of biology, is recognized as one of the world’s leading behavioral ecologists. Holekamp has devoted her career to animal behavior and behavioral neuroendocrinology, focusing specifically on the study of the evolution of intelligence. Her long-running study of spotted hyenas in Africa has acquired more than 30 years of data, covering 10 generations of hyena. Holekamp is a faculty member in the Department of Integrative Biology and is director of the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior Program at MSU.

Holekamp earned her Ph.D. in psychobiology from the University of California, Berkeley. She was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, for three years, where she received a National Research Service Award Postdoctoral Fellowship from the National Institutes of Health. Since joining MSU in 1991, she and her students have published more than 150 scholarly articles. Her research on wild hyenas has received continuous support from the National Science Foundation since 1987.

Holekamp’s honors include election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, being named a fellow of the Animal Behavior Society, and a Merriam Award from the American Society of Mammalogists. She is also a talented and dedicated instructor, which has earned her the MSU Graduate School Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award and Teacher-Scholar Award, and the College of Natural Science Outstanding Academic Advisor Award.