Michael Ferkin

Jack H. Morris Distinguished Research Professor

UofM Central Campus, Ellington Hall 315
Office Hours
By appointment
Dr. Michael Ferkin

About Dr. Ferkin

My research involves the study of animal behavior. Since I joined the faculty of the University of Memphis in 1995, my research has determined aspects of how animals communicate with one another, and how this affects their subsequent social and sexual interactions. My students and I study the social and sexual behavior of animals from four different levels of analysis, mechanism, development, function, and evolutionary history. We have addressed questions regarding the role of olfactory communication in the expression of social and sexual behavior in small mammals, such as voles. We have made many important discoveries that have increased our understanding of the physiology, ontogeny, cognitive functioning, adaptive significance and evolution and function of the behaviors that support social and sexual interactions in terrestrial mammals. My laboratory has been supported primarily through competitive grants from the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health. To date, we have been awarded over $1.5 million dollars from these granting agencies. My lab has also published 125 peer-reviewed papers, in top-tier journals such as Nature, Animal Behaviour, Hormones and Behavior, Behaviour, Physiology and Behavior, Ethology, Journal of Comparative Psychology, Animal Cognition, and Behavioral Ecology. Our papers in Nature and Animal Cognition received much recognition in the scientific and public arena; several articles were published in journals and newspapers discussing our findings. I currently serve as an editor for Animal Behaviour and for Current Zoology.I am committed to high quality science training for undergraduate and graduate students. I feel strongly that teaching and research are not dichotomous. One of my main goals as a researcher and teacher is to stimulate students' thinking about the complexity and elegance of science, particularly the study of animal behavior. I teach courses in Animal Behavior, Behavioral Ecology, Animal Cognition, Communication, General Endocrinology, and Comparative Anatomy of Vertebrates.


B.S. Biological Sciences, SUNY Brockport; MS Biological Sciences, SUNY Brockport; Ph.D. Biology, Boston University; Post-Doctoral Fellow Psychology, UC Berkeley; Post-Doctoral Fellow Psychology, Cornell University.

Research Interests

  • Animal Behavior
  • Behavioral Ecology
  • Animal Cognition
  • Sperm Competition