Christine Drea

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Christine M. Drea is a researcher and professor of biology and ecology with a specialty in animal social behavior and sexual differentiation at Duke University. Drea's work is focused on female dominant species and the hormonal activity, reproductive development and social interactions of these animals. She is currently the Earl D. McLean Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology within the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences and the director of graduate studies for the Duke University Ecology program.

Early life[edit]

Christine Drea was born in Kenitra, Morocco. She was then raised in the suburbs surrounding Paris, France. As a child, Drea’s father brought her along with his work trips, which greatly fostered her interest in animals. At the age of 19, Drea moved to Beltsville, Maryland to attend University of Maryland, College Park.[1]


Drea studied at the American University of Paris before moving to the United States. While there, she conducted research for the US Embassy and US Department of Agriculture. Christine Drea finished her Bachelors of Science in zoology at University of Maryland, College Park in 1984. She did this while studying bowerbird mating behavior in Australia and the vertebrate visual system at the National Institutes of Health.[2] Drea then continued on to get her M.A. in 1990 and then Ph.D. in psychobiology in 1991 at Emory University. In her dissertation research, Christine Drea studied the relationship between maternal social status, offspring health and female dispersal success in wild meerkats. Her doctoral dissertation included research surrounding effects of captivity, habitat and evolutionary history in the microbiomes of lemurs.[3]


Christine Drea followed her Ph.D. with a postdoctoral fellowship in physiology at the Morehouse School of Medicine and a NRSA postdoctoral fellowship in psychology. She was also a lecturer of integrative biology at University of California, Berkeley. While at Berkeley, Drea studied the social behavior and reproductive development of hyenas in Kenya.[1] In 1999, Drea became a faculty member at Duke University where she remains today.[1] She has held titles as the Assistant Professor of Biological Anthropology and Anatomy (1999-2005), Assistant Professor of Biology within the Trinity College of Art and Sciences (2001-2005), Assistant Research Professor of Biological Anthropology and Anatomy (2006-2007), and the Associate Professor of Anthropology and Anatomy within the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences (2008-2012).[4] Drea is currently an Earl D. McLean Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology within the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences (2016-2021)[4] and is the director of graduate studies for the Duke University Ecology program. At Duke, she teaches courses on primate sexuality, ecology, evolution of primate social cognition and evolutionary ecology.[5]

Awards and research[edit]

Since the start of her science career, Drea has received many awards and nominations including:

Within her research, Christine Drea focuses on social learning and group cohesion, in particular, how social interaction modulates behavior, problem solving and cognitive behavior.[3]. She is interested in how animals maintain learn rules of conduct and maintain social cohesion based on marking, social effects on behavior, play, and aggression[3]. Drea’s research shows a connection between the geography of a region and the adaptations of the animals to its features to increase survival [1]

Drea has also kept a strong focus on sex differentiation and female dominant species, in particular hyenas, meerkats and lemurs.[2][3]. She studies naturally occurring hormones and hormonal activity, genital morphology, social behavior, and reproductive development in both lab and field environments[3]. Drea’s lab is currently focused on the diversity of microbiomes in relation to health and signaling in both wild and captive lemurs, comparative lemur neuroendocrinology, and meerkat reproductive endocrinology and eco-immunology[5]. She works with the Duke Lemur Center and with lemurs in Madagascar[2]

Selected works[edit]

Grogan, KE; Sauther, ML; Cuozzo, FP; Drea, CM Genetic wealth, population health: Major histocompatibility complex variation in captive and wild ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta).. 7 19: 7638-7649. Ecology and Evolution (2017)

Leclaire, S; Jacob, S; Greene, LK; Dubay, GR; Drea, CM Social odours covary with bacterial community in the anal secretions of wild meerkats.. 7 1: 3240-undefined. Scientific Reports (2017)

Davies, CS; Smyth, KN; Greene, LK; Walsh, DA; Mitchell, J; Clutton-Brock, T; Drea, CM Exceptional endocrine profiles characterise the meerkat: sex, status, and reproductive patterns.. 6 undefined: 35492-undefined. Scientific Reports (2016)

A full list of Christine Drea’s publications can be found HERE[6]


  1. ^ a b c d Society, National Geographic (2012-06-08). "Animal Behavior Scientist: Christine Drea". National Geographic Society. Retrieved 2018-04-15.
  2. ^ a b c Duke Lemur Center (2016-12-02), Christine Drea, "Female Lemurs Rule! Gaining Understanding of Social Dominance", retrieved 2018-04-15
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Christine M. Drea | Evolutionary Anthropology". Retrieved 2018-04-15.
  4. ^ a b c d "Christine M. Drea | Scholars@Duke". Retrieved 2018-04-15.
  5. ^ a b "My Site". Retrieved 2018-04-15.
  6. ^ a b "Christine Drea | Duke Institute for Brain Sciences | Brain Functions Research & Science". Retrieved 2018-04-15.