Department of Biology
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Kathleen E. Hunt, Ph.D. is a physiologist and endocrinologist with a strong interest in applied conservation physiology. Most of Dr. Hunt’s research interests center on impacts of environmental and anthropogenic stress on reproduction and health of free-ranging vertebrates, with an emphasis on applications for conservation. She has particular expertise in hormone assay validation, and has developed hundreds of hormone assays for alternative sample types that can either be collected noninvasively without disturbing the animal (feces, respiratory vapor), or can be found in museum archives (baleen, fur, feather).
Dr. Hunt’s current projects include assessment of reproductive cycles in bowhead whales of Alaska and Greenland; impacts of food limitation and fishing gear entanglement in humpback and southern right whales; historic trends in pregnancy cycles in blue and fin whales of the Antarctic; nest timing, nest success, and effects of environmental change on Arctic tundra birds; effects of avian malaria in native Hawaiian birds; cold-stunning and transport stress in several species of sea turtles; and seasonal physiology of the world’s only endothemic hibernating lizard: the Brazilian tegu. Past projects have focused on stress and reproduction in a variety of birds, ungulates, and pinnipeds, three species of bears, and two species of elephants.
Dr. Hunt currently collaborates with field research teams in Alaska, Greenland, Oregon, Hawaii, Brazil, Argentina, the Bahamas, and the eastern seaboard of the USA and eastern Canada, along with active collaborations with the U.S. marine mammal stranding network and natural history museums. Dr. Hunt holds a joint position with the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation in Front Royal, Virginia.
Dr. Hunt teaches several courses including human anatomy and physiology, reproductive physiology, stress physiology, comparative endocrinology, and conservation physiology.