Marlene Zuk

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Marlene Zuk
Marlene Zuk, Palmerston North City Library.JPG
Marlene Zuk in Palmerston North City Library, 2014
Born (1956-05-20) 20 May 1956 (age 58)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania[1]
Citizenship United States
Fields Evolutionary biology, behavioral ecology
Institutions University of California, Riverside
University of Minnesota
Alma mater University of California, Santa Barbara
Thesis Sexual selection, mate choice and gregarine parasite levels in the field crickets Gryllus veletis and G. pennsylvanicus (1986)
Spouse John Rotenberry

Marlene Zuk (born 20 May 1956) is an American evolutionary biologist and behavioral ecologist. She worked as professor of biology at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) until she transferred to the University of Minnesota in 2012. Her studies involve sexual selection and parasites.[2]

Zuk was born in Philadelphia.[1] She is a native to Los Angeles.[3] She became interested in insects at a young age from living in the city. At the University of California, Santa Barbara, Zuk started majoring in English, but decided to switch to Biology.[4] After earning her Bachelor's degree, she wrote and taught for three years.[5] In 1982, she and W. D. Hamilton proposed a hypothesis on sexual selection known as the good genes hypothesis.[6] Zuk went to the University of Michigan in 1986 to earn her Ph.D.[7][5] She completed her postdoctoral research at the University of New Mexico.[5] She joined the UCR faculty in 1989.[3] In April 2012, Zuk and her husband John Rotenberry transferred to the University of Minnesota, both working in the College of Biological Sciences.[4]


Zuk's research of interest deals with the evolution of sexual behavior (especially in relation to parasites), mate choice, and insect song.[1] A recurring theme in Zuk's writing and lectures is feminism and women in science.[4]

Her publications include:[8]

  • Sexual Selections: what we can and can't learn about sex from animals, (2002). University of California Press, Berkeley.
  • Riddled with Life: Friendly Worms, Ladybug Sex, and the Parasites That Make Us Who We Are, (2007). Harcourt, Inc., New York.
  • "Can bugs improve your sex life?" (1 August 2011). Wall Street Journal.
  • Sex on Six Legs: Lessons on Life, Love and Language from the Insect World (2011). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York.
  • "Bring on the aerial ant sex" (2012). Los Angeles Times, April 29.
  • "Anthropomorphism: A Peculiar Institution" (2012). The Scientist 26: 66-67.
  • Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us about Sex, Diet, and How We Live (2013). W. W. Norton & Company, New York.


  1. ^ a b c Henderson, Andrea Kovacs, ed. (2010). "Zuk, Marlene". American Men & Women of Science. 7 T–Z (28th ed.). Detroit, Michigan: Gale. p. 1078. ISBN 978-1-4144-4558-8. 
  2. ^ "Professor Marlene Zuk". College of Biological Sciences. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Pittalwala, Iqbal (5 April 2007). "UCR Newsroom: Can Disease Be Our Friend?". UCR Newsroom. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c Leigh, Blake (30 May 2012). "CBS hires bug sexpert Marlene Zuk". Minnesota Daily. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c "Dr. Marlene Zuk". X-STEM – Extreme STEM Symposium. USA Science and Engineering Festival. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  6. ^ Combes, Claude (1 October 2005). The Art of Being a Parasite. University of Chicago Press. p. 179. ISBN 978-0-226-11438-5. Retrieved 24 May 2013. 
  7. ^ "UCR Department of Biology". Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  8. ^ "Professor Marlene Zuk". College of Biological Sciences. University of Michigan. Retrieved 16 March 2013.