Jennifer Elaine Smith

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Jennifer Elaine Smith
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BornCushing, Maine
CitizenshipUnited States of America
  • B.A. in Biology
  • M.S. in Integrative Biology
  • Phds. in Zoology Ecology Evolutionary Biology
Alma mater
  • Colby College
  • University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
  • Michigan State University
  • Behavioral Ecologist
  • Evolutionary Biologist

Jennifer Elaine Smith is a behavioral ecologist and evolutionary biologist. She is an Associate Professor and Chair of Biology at Mills College,[1], a Hispanic-serving women's college for undergraduates in Oakland, California. Her research focuses primarily on the social lives of mammals based on insights gained from long-term studies on marked individuals and comparative approaches. She has published nearly 50 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals.[2]. She has also received numerous teaching awards, including those from the Animal Behavior Society[3] and Phi Beta Kappa[4].

Early life and education

Smith was born in the small coastal town of Cushing, Maine. She holds a B.A. in Biology with a concentration in Environmental Science from Colby College and an M.S. in Integrative Biology from University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. She went on to complete dual Ph.Ds. in Zoology and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior at Michigan State University. Her dissertation research with Kay E. Holekamp[5] involved extensive fieldwork in Kenya and focused on the evolutionary and ecological forces shaping patterns of cooperation among spotted hyenas[6] Before joining the faculty at Mills College, she was an American Association of University Women postdoctoral fellow with Daniel T. Blumstein at the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology,[7] as well as in the Institute for Society and Genetics,[8] at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Work and academic contributions

Smith is known for her contributions to our understanding sociality in free-living mammals. Among her most prominent contributions are those focused on animal social networks[9], comparative social evolution[10], the fission-fusion society[11] of and coalition formation[12] in spotted hyenas, leadership in mammalian societies[13], and for managing her own long-term study on the behavioral ecology of the California ground squirrel [14] at Briones Regional Park [15].


  1. "Jennifer E. Smith's Faculty Page". Mills College.
  2. "Jennifer E. Smith Google Scholar Profile". Google Scholar.
  3. "Newsletter of the Animal Behavior Society". Animal Behavior.
  4. "Teaching Excellence Awards". Phi Beta Kappa Northern California Association.
  5. "Kay Holekamp's Lab". Kay Holekamp.
  6. "Evolutionary and Ecological Forces Shaping Patterns of Cooperation among Spotted Hyenas". ProQuest.
  7. "Daniel Blumstein". UCLA.
  8. "UCLA Institute for Society and Genetics". UCLA.
  9. "The dynamics of animal social networks: analytical, conceptual, and theoretical advances". Behavioral Ecology 25(2):242-255..
  10. "Comparative Social Evolution". Cambridge University Press.
  11. "Social and ecological determinants of fission–fusion dynamics in the spotted hyaena". Animal Behaviour 76:619-636.
  12. "Evolutionary forces favoring intragroup coalitions among spotted hyenas and other animals". Behavioral Ecology 21(2):284-303.
  13. "Leadership in mammalian societies: emergence, distribution, power, and payoff". Trends in Ecology and Evolution 31(1), 54-66.
  14. "Otospermophilus beecheyi (Rodentia: Sciuridae)". Mammalian Species 48(939):1-18.
  15. "Long-term Study of the Behavioral Ecology of California Ground Squirrels". Jennifer E. Smith.

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