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Photo: Brenda McCowan

Brenda McCowan- BS, PhD
Population Health & Reproduction

4205 VM3B
Davis, CA 95616

+1 530 754 7373


Research Focus

Animal health, management and well-being; Wildlife conservation; Bioacoustics; Ethology

Specialty Focus

Social networks and health


1985 BS , Cornell University, Ithaca, NY,
1994 PhD , Harvard University, Cambridge, MA,

Honors and Awards

1992 Award of Teaching Excellence, Harvard University
1985 Honors Program Graduate, Cornell University

Active Research Grants

Principal Investigator, Behavioral management of deleterious aggression in rhesus macaques, (Principal Investigator), National Institutes of Health

Principal Investigator, Expanding the utility of social network analysis for multilevel health outcomes, (Principal Investigator), National Institutes of Health

Principal Investigator, Understanding non-pathogenic diarrhea in captive nonhuman primates to reduce associated morbidity, (Principal Investigator), John Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing

Most Recent 10 Publications

  • Link Icon 2012 Shev A, Hsieh F, Beisner B, McCowan B Using Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) to visualize and test the linearity assumption of the Bradley-Terry class of models Anim Behav,
  • Link Icon 2012 Wyman MT, Mooring MS, McCowan B, Penedo MCT, Reby D, Hart LA Acoustic cues to size and quality in the vocalizations of male American bison, Bison bison Anim Behav,
  • Link Icon 2012 Minier D, Hannibal D, Sharpe N, McCowan B By the carrot or by the stick: Practical differences between positive and negative reinforcement training ABMA Wellspring (Change in Title to Professor, Step 1, effective 05/01/2012),
  • Link Icon 2012 Ferrer-i-Cancho R, McCowan B The span of correlations in dolphin whistle sequences. 06002. doi: 10.1088/1742-5468/2012/06/P06002 J Statistical Mechanics,
  • Link Icon 2012 Makagon MM, McCowan B, Mench JA How can social network analysis contribute to social behavior research in applied ethology? Appl Anim Behav Sci (Special Issue),
  • Link Icon 2012 Beisner BA, Jackson ME, Cameron A, McCowan B Sex ratio, conflict dynamics and wounding in rhesus macaques Appl Anim Behav Sci (Special Issue),
  • Link Icon 2012 Perlman JE, Bloomsmith MA, Whittaker MA, McMillan JL, Minier DE, McCowan B Implementing positive reinforcement animal training programs primate laboratories Appl Anim Behav Sci (Special Issue),
  • Link Icon 2011 Gottlieb DH, Ghirardo S, Minier DE, Sharpe N, Tatum L, McCowan B Efficacy of 3 types of foraging enrichment for rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) J Am Assoc Lab Anim Sci,
  • Link Icon 2011 Fushing H, McAssey MP, McCowan B Computing a ranking network with confidence bounds from a graph-based Beta random field Proceedings of the Royal Society,
  • Link Icon 2011 McCowan B, Beisner BA, Capitanio JP, Jackson ME, Cameron AN, Seil S, Atwill ER, Fushing H Network stability is a balancing act of personality, power, and conflict dynamics in rhesus macaque societies PloS one,

Most Recent 5 Book Chapters

2008 McCowan B, Doyle L, Hanser S, Kaufman A, Burgess C: Detection and estimation of complexity and contextual flexibility in nonhuman animal communication, , The Evolution of Communication Flexibility, MIT Press, Cambridge. (Change in Title to Professor, Step 1, effective 05/01/2012). .

2004 Hanser S, Doyle L, McCowan B, Jenkins J: Information theory applied to animal communication systems and its possible application to SETI, , Bioastronomy 2002: Life Among the Stars,, San Francisco. .

2000 Hanser S, McCowan B, Doyle LR: Information theory as a comparative measure of animal communication complexity, Lemaechand GA, Meech KJ, (ed), Bioastronomy 1999: A New Era in Bioastronomy, San Francisco. 613-617.

1997 McCowan B, Reiss D: Vocal learning in captive bottlenose dolphins: a comparison to humans and nonhuman animals, Snowdon CT, Hausberger M, (ed), Social Influences on Vocal Development, Cambridge. 178-207.

External Links

McCowan Animal Behavior Lab