Page Van Meter, PhD 2009
My interests lie in the field of reproductive endocrinology. I have come to work with spotted hyenas because of the unique suite of “masculine” characteristics possessed by the female of this species. Ultimately, I would like to try answering some questions like why these traits evolved, and what are the costs and benefits to these females. My research is currently directed at looking into intra-sexual aggression among females which seems to change across the reproductive cycle. Illuminating the endocrine milieu of these species has been difficult (you try getting a blood sample from the animal with the strongest bite force of all mammals). However, with recent progress in non-invasive hormone monitoring, we have for the first time a chance to track hormone changes across an individual’s lifetime. I hope to make a link between steroid hormones and behavior in this species, and contribute to our current understanding of the substance(s) mediating the organization and activation of male typical traits in females. Advances in this work might be applied more generally to reproduction and fertility in females facing pathologies due to androgen production.
vanmete7 [at] msu.edu