Michelle Rafacz - Columbia College Chicago

Michelle Rafacz

Associate Professor



I'm an associate professor of biology in the Science & Mathematics department at Columbia College Chicago and an adjunct scientist at Chicago's own Lincoln Park Zoo. My research focuses on the endocrinological basis of the evolution of animal behavior. I investigate the role of hormones and behavior in the conservation of endangered species, including those housed at zoological institutions. My current research aims to understand the role of facial symmetry and other hormonal and morpholgical features of endangered male black-footed ferrets in female mate choice in an attempt to enhance breeding success of the captive population. I hold a B.A. in Biological Sciences from Knox College, a M.S. in Biological Sciences from Loyola University Chicago, a M.S./Ph.D. in the Committee on Evolutionary Biology from the University of Chicago, and I completed a post-doc in the Lincoln Park Zoo's Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology, part of the Conservation and Science Department.

Instructional Areas

Animal behavior, evolution & sexual selection, general biology, environmental science, ecology, research methods (application of biology), intersections between science & art (collaborative courses)

Creative Practice and Research Interests

Evolution of animal social behavior (parental care, social hierarchies), behavioral endocrinology, environmental enrichment of zoo-housed populations, assessment of teaching at the college level, intersections between science & art (collaborative research projects)


B.S., Biology/Environmental Science Knox College 2002
M.S., Biology Loyola University Chicago 2004
Ph.D., Evolutionary Biology University of Chicago 2010
M.S., Evolutionary Biology University of Chicago 2010