Christopher J. Schell, Ph.D.


Conservation & Science


Urban Wildlife Institute


Adjunct Scientist


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

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Areas of Expertise

  • Urban carnivores
  • Animal behavior and personality
  • Wildlife endocrinology
  • Social-ecological systems
  • Urban evolutionary ecology


Christopher received his B.A. in Psychology from Columbia University in 2009 and his Ph.D in Evolutionary Biology from the University of Chicago in 2015 (lab of Jill Mateo, Ph.D., and Rachel Santymire, Ph.D.). As an NSF postdoctoral fellow (2015–2018), working in collaboration with Stewart Breck, Ph.D., National Wildlife Research Center, and Lisa Angeloni, Ph.D., Colorado State University, he worked on unraveling the endocrine and genetic mechanisms underpinning risk-taking behaviors in urban coyotes across the Denver and Fort Collins metropolitan areas.

Christopher joined the faculty of University of Washington Tacoma in the autumn of 2018 as an assistant professor in the Sciences and Mathematics Division. Using an integrative approach, his research incorporates the fields of animal personality, behavioral endocrinology, and urban ecology to infer how human-carnivore interactions facilitate co-adaptive processes within urban environments. Further, his research focuses on the socio-ecological factors (e.g. infrastructure, policy, human densities) that facilitate human-wildlife interactions and conflict, with additional focus on the biological factors (i.e. augmented endocrine responses) wildlife exhibit in human-dense environments.

Most of his work has relied on collaborative relationships among cultural institutions, government agencies, and wildlife management organizations to apply evolutionary theory toward conservation and management. Hence, Christopher customarily operates at the cross-departmental and agency levels to perform integrative biological research.


  • Schell, C. J., Young, J. K., Lonsdorf, E. V., Santymire, R. M., & Mateo, J. M.   2018. Parental habituation to human disturbance over time reduces fear of humans in coyote offspring. Ecology and Evolution, Early View.
  • Schell, C. J., Young, J. K., Lonsdorf, E. V., Mateo, J. M., & Santymire, R. M. 2017. Investigation of techniques to measure cortisol and testosterone concentrations in coyote hair. Zoo Biology.
  • Schell, C. J., Young, J. K., Lonsdorf, E. V., Mateo, J. M., & Santymire, R. M. 2016. Olfactory attractants and parity affect prenatal androgens and territoriality of coyote breeding pairs. Physiology & Behavior, 165, 43–54.
  • Schell, C.J, J.M. Young, E.V. Lonsdorf and R.M. Santymire. 2013. Validating the use of non-invasive techniques to monitor stress responses in coyotes (Canis latrans). Journal of Mammalogy 94(5):1131-1140.