‘More than just a scientist’: UC Berkeley professor emeritus Stephen Glickman dies at 87

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Mary Weldele/Courtesy

Stephen Glickman, the manager of the world’s only captive hyena colony, died May 22 after battling pancreatic cancer at 87.

Glickman joined the UC Berkeley psychology department in 1968 after teaching at the University of Michigan and Northwestern University. At UC Berkeley, he served as a professor of psychology and integrative biology. Glickman was recognized with the Distinguished Teaching Award and the Berkeley Citation, which is given by the chancellor for “exceeding the standards of excellence” in a field.

As a pioneer in behavioral endocrinology, Glickman’s best-known contribution was his research of spotted hyenas at UC Berkeley’s Field Station for the Study of Behavior, Ecology and Reproduction, according to Frances Katsuura, the UC Berkeley psychology department’s former director of administration.

For more than 30 years, Glickman studied the reproductive biology of spotted hyenas, in particular, how female hyenas are morphologically masculinized. He did so by establishing a captive population of spotted hyenas on campus and utilizing studies of behavior, endocrinology and morphology to better understand the unusual reproduction of hyenas.

“He was known as the spotted hyenas’ person who brought them from Africa to UC Berkeley,” said UC Berkeley professor Frederic Theunissen.

UC Berkeley professor Eileen Lacey said Glickman was “a pillar” of the psychology department.

In honor of Glickman’s accomplishments, the Field Station for the Study of Behavior, Ecology and Reproduction will be renamed after him.

“He was the heart of the animal research facility that housed the hyenas,” Lacey said in an email.

In addition to Glickman’s research, many of his colleagues said they admired his character. Glickman was known for his kindness and respect toward others.

According to Katsuura, there are few professors like him.

“Steve was much more than just a scientist,” Lacey said in the email. “He was also an excellent teacher, collaborator, and colleague and he will be remembered for the many ways that he helped to shape the careers and lives of others.”

Glickman’s colleagues also said they fondly remember their conversations with him, commenting on his intellect as well as his patient, supportive and calm nature.

Many said Glickman was very encouraging and supportive of other people’s work. He was one of the few people who would be willing to sit down, talk to anyone and make others feel important, according to Katsuura.

Glickman had the ability to connect with anyone and get others excited about his work in behavior and biology, according to Lacey. She added that, as an individual, he was always a pleasure to talk to.

Theunissen described Glickman as a “gentle giant.”

“He was very humble and, at the same time, always excited about others’ work. Many scientists are in their own bubble, but he is the opposite,” Theunissen said. “He was always excited to discuss your work, and his work was very humble.”

Contact Aryia Dattamajumdar at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @AryiaDattamaju1.