Marlene Zuk

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Marlene Zuk
Marlene Zuk, Palmerston North City Library.JPG
Born (1956-05-20) May 20, 1956 (age 63)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.[1]
CitizenshipUnited States
Alma materUniversity of California, Santa Barbara
University of Michigan
Spouse(s)John Rotenberry
Scientific career
FieldsEvolutionary biology, behavioral ecology
InstitutionsUniversity of California, Riverside
University of Minnesota
ThesisSexual selection, mate choice and gregarine parasite levels in the field crickets Gryllus veletis and G. pennsylvanicus (1986)

Marlene Zuk (born May 20, 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, Pennsylvania[1] and she is a native to Los Angeles.[3] living in the city, she became interested in insects at a young age. 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 the "good genes" hypothesis of sexual selection.[6] Zuk started attending the University of Michigan in 1986 and earned her Doctor of Philosophy.[5][7] 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, where they both work at its College of Biological Sciences.[4]

Zuk has received honorary doctorates from Sweden's Uppsala University (2010) and the University of Jyväskylä in Finland (2016).[8]


Research Interests[edit]

Zuk's research of interest deals with the evolution of sexual behavior (especially in relation to parasites), mate choice, and Animal behavior.[2] A recurring theme in Zuk's writing and lectures is feminism and women in science.[4] Zuk is critical of the paleolithic diet.[9]

Selected works[edit]

Her books and articles include:[2]

  • Heritable true fitness and bright birds: a role for parasites? (1982). Science.
  • Sexual Selections: what we can and can't learn about sex from animals, (2002). University of California Press, Berkeley. ISBN 978-0520240759.
  • Riddled with Life: Friendly Worms, Ladybug Sex, and the Parasites That Make Us Who We Are, (2007). Harcourt, Inc., New York. ISBN 978-0156034685.
  • "Can bugs improve your sex life?" (August 1, 2011). Wall Street Journal.
  • Sex on Six Legs: Lessons on Life, Love and Language from the Insect World, (2011). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York. ISBN 978-0151013739.
  • "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. ISBN 978-0393347920.

College Leadership[edit]

Zuk is a professor in the department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior in the College of Biological Sciences. She is the Associate Dean for Faculty.[2]

Awards and Honors[edit]

In 2015 Zuk was the recipient of the Edward O. Wilson Naturalist Award by the American Society of Naturalists.[10][11]

Zuk was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2017,[12][13] and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2019. [14]


  1. ^ a b 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. ^ a b c d "Professor Marlene Zuk". College of Biological Sciences. University of Michigan. Retrieved February 4, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Pittalwala, Iqbal (April 5, 2007). "UCR Newsroom: Can Disease Be Our Friend?". UCR Newsroom. Retrieved March 16, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c Leigh, Blake (May 30, 2012). "CBS hires bug sexpert Marlene Zuk". Minnesota Daily. Retrieved March 16, 2013.
  5. ^ a b c "Dr. Marlene Zuk". X-STEM – Extreme STEM Symposium. USA Science and Engineering Festival. Retrieved March 16, 2013.
  6. ^ Combes, Claude (October 1, 2005). The Art of Being a Parasite. University of Chicago Press. p. 179. ISBN 978-0-226-11438-5. Retrieved May 24, 2013.
  7. ^ "Marlene Zuk". UCR Department of Biology. Retrieved September 9, 2017.
  8. ^ "Finnish University Honors Zuk | College of Biological Sciences". Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  9. ^ "Scientist says paleo diet is not always based on way evolution really works". May 14, 2015. Retrieved July 26, 2015.
  10. ^ "Zuk receives naturalist award | College of Biological Sciences". Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  11. ^ "Edward O. Wilson Award". Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  12. ^ "Award-Winning Faculty and Staff | College of Biological Sciences". Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  13. ^ "Marlene Zuk". American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  14. ^ "CCS Alumna Elected to the National Academy of Sciences".

External links[edit]