- PhD, Conservation Biology and Population Genetics, Queen’s University, Canada MS, Behavioral Ecology, University of Ottawa, Canada BSc (H), BSc (H), Animal Behaviour, University of Toronto, Canada
- Dr. Schaeff's training is in behavior and evolutionary biology. Her research interests include behavior, conservation biology, molecular ecology and most recently, human sexual identity – examining the biological foundations of human gender and sexual orientation. There are data that suggest that some people who identify as trans or transgender and who receive sex hormones as part of their transition may experience a shift in their patterns of attraction, a.k.a. sexual orientation, and/or their gender identities. To social scientists, gender is primarily a social construct, connected to an individual’s sex or patterns of sexual attraction mostly through socially constructed links. To natural scientists, it is partially that and also partially a flexible behavioral trait that evolved because it facilitated obtaining high quality mates and maximizing one’s reproductive success. Investigating whether, and if so how, sex hormones affect sexual identity (gender and sexual orientation) is important both for enhancing our understanding of sexual identity and because it will provide information and insights for transitioning individuals and the practitioners who support them. This work incorporates biological, psychological, and sociological theories and methodologies. Please contact Dr. Cathy Schaeff if you are interested in helping with this research. More information at: IdentityResearch.info; IdentityResearch@American.edu Note: if you are interested in funded summer research please contact me ASAP - deadline for summer scholarships is Feb 17
- (2000-Present) Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Biology, American University
- (1993-99) Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, American University
- Goerlitz, D, Belson M., Urban, J., CM Schaeff. In press. Genetic population structure of Eastern North Pacific gray whales ( Eschrichtius robustus ) on winter breeding grounds in Baja California. Canadian Journal of Zoology.
- Best, PB, CM Schaeff, D Reeb, PJ Palsboll. In press. Composition and possible function of social groupings of southern right whales in South African waters. Journal of Behaviour.
- Best, PB, D Reeb, MB Rew, PJ Palsboll, CM Schaeff. In press. Biopsying southern right whales; their reactions and effects on reproduction. In press. Journal of Wildlife Management.
- Steeves T, J Darling, CM Schaeff & R Fleischer. 2001 Population structure of gray whales that summer in Clayoquot Sound, British Columbia based on sighting and molecular data. Conservation Genetics 2:379-384.
Grants and Sponsored Research
- (2000) Senate Research Award, American University
- (2000) CAS Mellon Research Award, American University
- (1997) Pittsburgh Zoo Conservation Fund
- (1997) Senate Research Award, American University
- (1995) CAS Mellon Research Award, American University
- (1995) Senate Research Award, American University
- (1994) Senate Research Award, American University
Area of Expertise
Genetics, conservation, animal behavior, behavioral ecology, marine mammals, evolution of human mate choice, marine mammal conservation
Cathy Schaeff's main research interests are conservation biology, molecular ecology, and behavior. She uses molecular DNA techniques in conjunction with behavioral data to investigate gene flow patterns within and between populations (e.g., right whales and gray whales), determine mating strategies (e.g., penguins, right whales), and understand the evolutionary significance of various behaviors (e.g., fostering). She is also conducting a number of studies on fluctuating asymmetry to determine whether morphological asymmetry is a useful tool for assessing population health in endangered species (right whales, manatees, Sable Island ponies) and recently began studying mate choice in gays and lesbians.