November 06, 2013

Dr. Dan Rubenstein joins the board

Princeton University zoologist serves the science committee

Hawk Mountain board member Dan Rubenstein, Ph.D.

Princeton University zoologist Dr. Dan Rubenstein was recently appointed to a four-year term on the board of directors at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary where he will serve on the conservation science committee.

An international authority on zebras, Dr. Rubenstein became familiar with Hawk Mountain while conducting field work in Africa. Here, he met and was impressed by graduates of the Hawk Mountain conservation science trainee program.

“When I met these bright-eyed, bushy-tailed scientists I was struck by their enthusiasm, professionalism and ability to watch birds, gather quality data and go beyond the protocols by asking good questions. When I asked how they gained these skills, they all cited Hawk Mountain,” Dr. Rubenstein explains. 

He further connected with the Sanctuary when he and Hawk Mountain’s Dr. Keith Bildstein co-advised then-doctoral student Corinne Kendall, who was studying endangered species of Old World vultures as a Hawk Mountain graduate student. Kendall has since earned her doctorate and now is a Hawk Mountain Research Associate, helping to conduct a new Hawk Mountain study on the endangered hooded vulture.

Dr. Rubenstein is well known for his global work on behavior and decision making in wild equids, particularly with zebra sociality. Investigating how animals network and what determines leaders in an animal society is a focus of his work. His experience in field work, scientific publications and funding independent research will be indispensable to the four-member team of scientists at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.

Dr. Rubenstein is the Class of 1877 Professor of Zoology and Chair of Princeton University’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. He received his Ph.D. from Duke University in 1977 before receiving NSF-NATO and King’s College Junior Research Fellowships for post-doctoral studies at Cambridge University. He is an elected Fellow of the Animal Behavior Society as well as the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and has received Princeton University’s President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching. Rubenstein studies how environmental variation and individual differences shape social behavior, social structure, and the dynamics of populations, and has special interests in all species of wild horses, zebras, and asses, having studied them throughout the world.

In Kenya, he also works with pastoral communities to develop a data gathering scout program and curricula modules for local schools in order to raise awareness about the plight of the endangered Gravy’s zebra. He has recently extended his work to measuring the effects of environmental change, including the changes wrought by management and by global warming on behavior.

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is an international center for raptor conservation, and one of the most famous places in northeastern North America to watch the autumn migration of birds of prey. The Association maintains a 2,500-acre natural area north of Reading that welcomes an average 65,000 visitors annually, and operates global programs in raptor conservation science, education and training.