Stephanie M. Dloniak

Writing about science, nature, and adventure for children and adults.



About me

I am an American biologist slowly morphing into a science-nature-adventure writer. I am most interested in our relationships with the natural world, and I mainly write features about wildlife research and conservation, the environment, and travel in wild (and some not-so-wild) places.

I was born and raised in the small town of Titusville, Pennsylvania. Titusville’s main claim to fame is the world’s first oil well, drilled by Colonel Edwin L. Drake in 1859. Ida Tarbell, a muckraker of note, also called Titusville home for a number of years.

After leaving northwestern Pennsylvania in 1993, I attended Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin. After 3 years of the spectacular north woods and Lake Superior, I moved to Fairbanks, Alaska, to pursue a Master of Science in Biology from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. A dual PhD in Zoology and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior from Michigan State University followed.

During my research career, I studied small mammals, fish, birds, and large carnivores. My MS thesis was on the neuroendocrine control of song in dark-eyed juncos and my PhD thesis was on the socioendocrinology of spotted hyenas. I have been incredibly fortunate to track wolves across northern Wisconsin, search for invasive fish species throughout the Great Lakes, catch songbirds at the base of Denali, observe a clan of hyenas for two years in the Masai Mara, and count all of the cheetahs and lions in one of Kenya’s most important wildlife areas. 

I am currently an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Integrative Biology at Michigan State University and the Chair of the IUCN SSC Hyaena Specialist Group. I have taught various lab courses and the MSU study abroad course Behavioral Ecology of African Mammals. I continue to help train research assistants with the Mara Hyena Project, and I teach an annual science-writing workshop for students involved with the MSU International Research Experience for Students on Field Research on African Carnivores (funded by the National Science Foundation).

I live with my family at the northernmost edge of the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem in Kenya, surrounded by wildlife and livestock in the Enonkishu Conservancy. I am a runner and I like to travel to places with interesting wildlife and good food: I am searching for a combination that tops the urban hyenas and exquisite coffee found in Harar, Ethiopia.