Faculty/Staff Directory

Jodee Hunt

Photo of Jodee Hunt



Office Address
3325 Kindschi Hall of Science

Office Phone

Areas of Expertise
Ecology & Behavior of Vertebrates - especially mammals & fishes, Behavior Husbandry & Enrichment of Captive Animals - especially in zoos, Sustainable Agriculture & Agroecology

Professional Societies

Animal Behavior Society
Association for Women in Science, West Michigan Chapter
Stewardship Network; West Michigan Conservation Network
Sustainable Agriculture Education Association
Association of Zoos and Aquariums
Ecological Society of America

Courses Taught at GVSU

BIO 105 Environmental Science
BIO 121 General Biology II
BIO 210 Evolution
BIO 215 Ecology
BIO 329 Evolution of Social Behavior
BIO 480/NRM 480 Agroecology

Research Interests

I enjoy working with outstanding, motivated students whose scholarly interests coincide with my own. I am highly selective about working with students and expect maturity, independence and dedication from the students with whom I work.  Since 1990, I’ve collaborated with more than 60 undergraduate and graduate student researchers, addressing a breadth of basic and applied questions in ecology, behavior, conservation and science education (see student presentations, below).  I typically mentor 1-2 graduate students, 1-2 “lead” undergraduate students and up to 2-3 lower-division undergraduates and/or high school students. I seek diversity in all its forms among my student researchers, and take pride in mentoring students. Together, we pursue diverse lines of research, currently in the following areas:

1. Behavior husbandry in captive animals: behavior observations of zoo animals and critical literature reviews (currently focusing on carnivores) to assess enrichment protocols. In 2017, we completed baseline observations and developed (but have not yet implemented) experimental designs to investigate the efficacy of different types of enrichment activities and times of presentation. Though challenging, these designs are feasible, and we are currently pursuing them. This work is being done in cooperation with John Ball Zoo.

2. Fish behavior & ecology: I have studied the reproductive ecology and behavior of fishes periodically since 1991, most recently focused on laboratory study of Central American cichlids. Our laboratory experiments utilized behavioral observations and molecular techniques to examine transmission of microbes from parents to their offspring and the effects of parental care on offspring survival. This work is no longer active, and the techniques we used no longer up-to-date, but the questions could be adapted by a talented student with strong molecular skills to incorporate next-gen technologies. During a 2017 sabbatical, I completed a literature review of metagenomic technologies and applications, and another of the application of molecular techniques to the study of prokaryotes associated with fish skin. Connections I’ve developed in Nicaragua might make it possible for a student with Spanish fluency to conduct field work with cichlids in their native habitat.  I no longer  conduct research on game species.

3. Other areas of research: I  am able to mentor students keen to work on small-scale, sustainable agriculture, especially restoration of agroecosystems in rural or urban/suburban settings, though this is not a current line of research in my lab.

My Mentoring Philosophy

My research program is highly interdisciplinary and diverse, and deeply involves student researchers. My primary focus is mentoring students, and thus I emphasize student professional development, scholarly independence and “ownership” of research over my own publication record. Because most students work with me for only 6-18 months before graduation, the most effective way to foster their professional development and productivity is through development-to-completion of small projects that culminate in presentation at professional conferences. Our track record is excellent, and this strategy is effective: many of the students named below have since completed graduate or professional degrees or are currently pursuing graduate studies, and most are engaged in productive, meaningful work linked to their passions in science and education.


Ph.D. Systematics and Ecology, University of Kansas.
M.S. Biology (emphasis in Ecology), San Diego State University.
B.S. Animal Health Science, University of Arizona.

Select Publications

Lane, P., J. Hunt and J. Farris. 2012. Innovative teaching to engage and challenge twenty-first century entrepreneurship students: an interdisciplinary approach.  IEEE Engineering Management Review.* 40(2):59-71.   Note: my co-authors are GVSU faculty from Engineering (JF) and Marketing/CoIS (PL)

Hunt, J.,  P. Lane and J. Farris. 2011.  The lesson of Miss Arlene’s oven: entrepreneurship at the base of the economic pyramid in Nicaragua.  Journal of International Entrepreneurship. 14:85-110.

Lane, P., J. Farris and J. Hunt. 2008. Challenging entrepreneurial students with concrete, interdisciplinary problems. 2008 Conference and Proceedings, Allied Academies International Conference, Reno, NV. Addresses an interdisciplinary, problem-solving based technique for teaching undergraduates.

Lane, P. J. Farris, J. Hunt and J. Corr. 2008.  Innovation goes green.  2008 Proceedings, Operations Management/Entrepreneurship Assoc., Midw. Business Admin. Assoc. International. Addresses interdisciplinary approach to teaching about sustainability.  Note: co-author JC is from Anthropology.

Hunt, J., N. Bacheler*, E. Videan*, D. Wilson* and C. Annett. 2002. Enhancing largemouth bass spawning: behavioral and habitat considerations. pp. 277-290 in Black Bass 2000: Conservation, Ecology and Management of Black Basses. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD.

Hunt, J. and C. Annett.  2002. Effects of habitat manipulation on individual nesting largemouth bass in an Ozark reservoir. North American Journal of Fisheries Management. 22:1201-1208.

Recent Presentations

Presentations by GVSU Students (*Undergraduate student  **Graduate student)

Golus, F.*, T. Orr* and J. Hunt. 2017.  Making the most of enrichment: efficacy with John Ball Zoo’s carnivores.  Association of Zoos & Aquariums Annual Conference, Indianapolis, IN and West Michigan Regional Undergraduate Science Research Conference, Van Andel Institute, Grand Rapids, MI, and Student Summer Scholars Showcase, GVSU, Allendale, MI.

Orr, T*., F. Golus* and J. Hunt. 2017. Timing is everything: influence of enrichment on end-of-day behavior of captive carnivores. Association of Zoos & Aquariums Annual Conference, Indianapolis, IN.

Bradfield, C.* and J. Hunt. 2016. Global warming and oxygen consumption in embryonic white-spotted bamboo sharks (Chiloscylliaum plagiosum). Poster presentation, West Michigan Regional Undergraduate Science Research Conference, Van Andel Institute, Grand Rapids, MI, and GVSU Student Scholar Day and Summer Student Scholars Showcase. 

Zemaitis, K.* and J. Hunt.  2013. Sea Turtle Nesting in Guanacaste, Costa Rica: Effects of Temperature and Sea Level Rise. Student Scholar Day, GVSU, Allendale, MI, and 2012 West Michigan Regional Undergraduate Science Research Conference, Van Andel Institute, Grand Rapids, MI.

Stoyka, L.* and J. Hunt. 2012. Lonely Boy: Parental Division of Labor and Single Parenting in Convict Cichlids (Amatitlania nigrofasciata). West Michigan Regional Undergraduate Science Research Conference, Van Andel Institute, Grand Rapids, MI.

Dekowski, D*. and J. Hunt.  2012. Mantled Howler Monkey (Alouatta palliata) Vocalizations as an Intergroup Spacing Mechanism on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua. West Michigan Regional Undergraduate Science Research Conference, Van Andel Institute, Grand Rapids, MI.

Presentations by Jodee Hunt

I have given oral and poster presentations and led workshops, symposia and roundtable discussions at events in four nations and at least 16 states. Many involved student coauthors, though when possible I prefer that students handle the presentations themselves (*Undergraduate collaborator; **Graduate student collaborator).

Hunt, J. and F. Golus*.  2017. Win-win collaboration: establishing an applied research program with a regional public university, Association of Zoos & Aquariums Annual Conference, Association of Zoos & Aquariums, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Hunt, J. 2016.  Linking perspectives from the sciences, social sciences and humanities in sustainable agriculture education. Roundtable discussion with participants from nine universities, one tribal affiliation, and the American Museum of Natural History. Ecology of Food Systems: 7th National Conference on Sustainable Agriculture Education, U.C. Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA

Hunt, J., L. Adams**, and L. Stoyka*. 2012.  Evolution of parental care in convict cichlids: division of labor, offspring survival and horizontal transmission of microbes. Ecological and Evolutionary Ethology of Fishes (EEEF) University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

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