Christy Wolovich, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Biology

In my classes, I use enthusiasm and compassion to maintain a positive environment so that students are able to work together to solve problems, generate novel ideas, and support one another during challenges. I focus on engaged learning activities that promote an understanding of both the practical skills and key concepts in Biology. By providing students with these experiences, I hope to inspire them to continue learning so that they are successful beyond the classroom.t they are successful beyond the classroom.

- Christy Wolovich

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Christy Wolovich

building is Polk Science - room is 139
Phone 863.680.5076

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Biography

I became interested in studying animal behavior while volunteering at a zoo when I was an undergraduate Biology major at the University of North Florida. I pursued a Ph.D. in Biology at the University of Miami and for my dissertation research I studied the details of food sharing in nocturnal owl monkeys. At that point in time, I knew I wanted to continue to do research, but I fell in love with teaching. I spent several years teaching at various liberal arts institutions and even abroad in West Africa before joining the faculty here at Florida Southern College. I teach a variety of courses including Animal Behavior, Field Ecology, Conservation Biology and Ecology Research, continue to do research into primate behavior, and have become actively involved in conservation education around the world. In my spare time, I like to explore natural areas here and abroad with my family.

Interests

I love getting to actually engage students to do science during class. My Animal Behavior students often observe lizards, squirrels and birds right here on campus and I take the Field Ecology down to Southern Landing and out to local nature parks to practice using various sampling techniques. I also find it incredibly rewarding to be able to get to know the students over the years and see how their experiences at Florida Southern College guide them toward their next steps in their careers. It is amazing to see so many students go on to graduate and professional school or to begin a job in their specialty areas immediately after they graduate.

In my spare time I like to go hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, disc golf, and mountain biking.

Education

B.S. Biology - University of North Florida
Ph.D. Biology - University of Miami

Honors and Awards

  • FSC Faculty/Student Collaborative Research Grants 2017, 2018, 2021
  • Dewey Wilkins Excellence in Teaching Award, MacMurray College 2013
  • Faculty Development Grant, MacMurray College Behavioral responses to chemical signals in the nocturnal owl monkey (Aotus nancymaae), 2012
  • Faculty Development Grant, MacMurray College, Mixed-species associations of monkeys in the Gambia, 2011
  • Outstanding Teaching Assistant in Biology, University of Miami, 2007
  • Women in Science Grant, Educating middle school girls about the tools and techniques in science at the DuMond Conservancy for Primates and Tropical Forests, 2006
  • Kushlin/Frohring Grant, University of Miami, Food sharing between mates in the monogamous owl monkey (Aotus nancymaae): a test of the female nutrition hypothesis, 2006
  • 1st place Natural Sciences, poster 2006, University of Miami Creativity and Research Forum Food sharing between mates in the monogamous owl monkey (Aotus nancymaae): the importance of female reproductive state.
  • Kriloff Award, University of Miami, 2004
  • Provost’s travel award, University of Miami, Award to present at IPS conference, Turin, Italy, 2004
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, The effects of food sharing on reproductive success in owl monkeys (Aotus spp.), 2003
  • Provost’s travel award, University of Miami 2002, GAFAC award, University of Miami 2002, Awards to present at ASP conference, OK, USA
  • Jay Savage Fund, University of Miami, Pair-bonding behaviors and their relationship to the proportion of extra-pair young in three species of gibbons (Symphalangus syndactylus, Hylobates lar, and H. agilis), 2002

Current Projects

FSC students have worked with me on a variety of research projects including examining the patterns of scent-marking behavior to determine if mated pairs actively guard their mates using olfactory cues. Research students (official members of Team Aotus!) often travel to Miami, FL during the summers in order to carry out behavioral observations of the owl monkeys and any related biological sampling. 

Several honors students (Gabrielle Risko and Isabel Arcusa) are conducting an experiment to determine how the monkeys respond to the chemical cues of conspecifics.  Meanwhile, Rachel Breitenbach is following up on some of my earlier work on insect foraging behavior by examining which sensory cues owl monkeys use to detect insect prey.  Several recent graduates (Samantha Prosser and Monet Burkett) are examining the complex facial hair patterns in owl monkeys and how they may be used in intraspecific communication. 

I am fortunate to collaborate with several other amazing scientists in the FSC Biology department. Research students (Malique Bowen) worked under the direction of Dr. Melanie Langford to isolate and identify bacteria comprising the microbiome associated with owl monkey scent glands and we compared these data to their scent-marking behavior. We plan to continue exploring the role that bacteria play in maintaining social monogamy.  Dr. Susan Banks and I worked with several students (Alliana Hack, Christina Fleck) to examine urinary cortisol levels in the owl monkeys and determine if those physiological indicators of stress correspond to specific repetitive behaviors.
 

Publications and Exhibitions

Bowen, M., Miles, C., Hegseth, R., Anderson, C. M., Brandon, C. S., Langford, M. L., & Wolovich, C. K. 2021. The potential interplay between the glandular microbiome and scent marking behavior in owl monkeys (Aotus nancymaae). American Journal of Primatology, e23324.

Wolovich, C.K., Tapanes, E., and Evans, S. 2017.  Allogrooming in male-female pairs of captive owl monkeys (Aotus nancymaae).  Folia Primatologica 88 :483-496.

Fernandez-Duque, E., Burke, K., Schoenrok, K., Valeggia, C. R., and Wolovich, C.K. 2011. Hormonal monitoring of reproductive status in wild monogamous female owl monkeys of the Argentine Chaco.  Folia Primatologica 82: 143-153

Wolovich, C.K., Evans, S., and Green, S.M.  2010.  Mated pairs of owl monkeys (Aotus  nancymaae) exhibit sex differences in response to unfamiliar male and female conspecifics.  American Journal of Primatology 72: 942-950.

Wolovich, C.K., Rivera, J., and Evans, S.  2010.  Insect-foraging in captive owl  monkeys (Aotus nancymaae).  Folia Primatologica 81: 63-72.

Wolovich, C.K., Evans, S., and French, J.A.  2008.  Dads don’t pay for sex but do buy the milk:  food sharing and reproduction in owl monkeys (Aotus spp.).  Animal Behaviour, 75: 1155-1163. 

Wolovich, C.K., Perea-Rodriguez, J.P. and Fernandez-Duque, E.  2008.  Food transfers to young and mates in wild owl monkeys (Aotus azarai).  American Journal of Primatology, 70: 211-221.

Wolovich, C.K., and Evans, S.  2007.  Sociosexual behavior and chemical communication of nocturnal monogamous owl monkeys (Aotus nancymaae).  International Journal of Primatology, 28: 1299-1313.  

Wolovich, C.K., Feged, A., Evans, S., and Green, S.M.  2006.  Social patterns of food sharing in monogamous owl monkeys.  American Journal of Primatology, 68: 663-674.