Call of the wild

March 22, 2013

Animal Behavior SeriesSeveral inches of fresh powder illuminated the sidewalks.

The roads were slick and offered testy commutes for southeast Michigan drivers.

On February 8, Mother Nature prompted University of Michigan-Dearborn leaders to close campus.

So while most students celebrated a day free from classes and exams, Francine Dolins had a dilemma.

The assistant professor of psychology had to figure out how to encourage students, faculty and staff to brave the wintry conditions and attend a guest lecture about animal behaviors.

Dolins emailed a handful of people to inform them that Peter Wrege’s lecture—“Hidden Beasts – Listening to the voice of Africa’s forest elephants”—still was scheduled in the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters building.

“There were about 35 to 40 people who showed up,” Dolins said. “It completely reassured me that people were interested.”

Generating interest has not been a problem for Dolins, who helped organize UM-Dearborn’s Animal Behavior Speaker Series.

So far, five distinguished scientists from universities across the country have visited campus to discuss animal research. Most recently, Kay Holehamp from Michigan State University discussed “Evolution & mediation of sex-role reversed traits in hyenas” on Friday.

“There has been a huge amount of enthusiasm,” Dolins said.

The speaker series, which also intends to help students interested in science-related careers network with some of the nation’s brightest scholars, has two remaining events.

On March 27, Bill Hopkins from Georgia State University is scheduled to visit campus to discuss “Left, right, hand and brain: Evolution of hemispheric specialization in primates.” Jacinta Beehner and Thore Bergman from UM-Ann Arbor will cap off the speaker series on April 3 with their lecture, “Minimizing reproductive loss: Female counterstrategies to infanticide in a wild primate.”

Both events will be held from 3:30-5 p.m. in 1030 CASL, with a reception afterward on the fourth floor of the CASL Building.

CASL, the Behavioral Sciences and Natural Sciences departments, as well as the Integrated Learning Program, are sponsoring the speaker series. Dolins credits Jerold Hale, Marilee Benore, Nancy Wrobel, Don Bord and Tiffany Marra for their help in organizing the series.

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