Conservation & Science Staff Bios

Christopher J. Schell

  Research Associate
Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology; Urban Wildlife Institute


  • Ph.D. Candidate – Evolutionary Biology, University of Chicago
  • B.A. – Individual Differences in Zebra Finches, Columbia University

Areas of Expertise

  • North American canids
  • Animal behavior
  • Behavioral endocrinology
  • Social behavior, pack dynamics, and individual behavioral differences
  • Evolution and development of coyote flexibility

“The coyote’s overall potential for adaptation is tremendous. So much so that they have become common neighbors in almost every neighborhood across the North American continent.”

About Christopher Schell:

Christopher’s career in evolutionary biology started during his undergraduate years at Columbia University, New York, where he worked with zebra finches in the Sarah Woolley Laboratory. In this neuroscience-focused lab, Chris utilized applied animal behavior techniques and evolutionary theories to address the pervasive influence of personality traits on social group function. Understanding that micro-scale (individual) variation can greatly affect macro-scale (population) dynamics, he has implemented this theme into his graduate studies, with coyotes as the study species.

As a National Science Foundation graduate fellow, Chris is building a highly integrative approach to study coyotes. He utilizes hormonal, genetic, morphological and behavioral data from both the Field Museum and Lincoln Park Zoo to discover how variation is generated and maintained in coyote populations. Currently, he is developing innovative methods to extract hormonal metabolites from non-traditional biological mediums (e.g., blood, feces, urine).

Chris believes both urban and rural communities alike can greatly benefit from increased awareness of wildlife and its role in our lives. Because of this, he is involved in multiple outreach programs, such as Project Exploration at the University of Chicago, to give back to younger generations. Coming from urban Los Angeles himself, he has grown up in an urban ecosystem and been influenced by the wildlife (e.g., coyotes, deer, red-tail hawks) in his area. Therefore, he loves to share his passion in biology and constantly strives to demonstrate how people and wildlife are intimately connected.


Schell, C.J., Young, J.K., Lonsdorf, E.V., Santymire, R.M. 2013. Anthropogenic and physiologically induced stress responses in captive coyotes. Journal of Mammalogy, 94(5):1131–1140.