Professor of Biology & Psychology
Environmental Science & Policy Program
Office Location: 122 Olin Hall
Michael J. Renner received his Ph.D. in biological psychology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1984, his M.S. degree from the University of Oklahoma, Norman, and his B.A. degree from Boise State University. After serving as a faculty member, dean, and provost at other universities from 1984-2009, he joined the faculty at Drake in 2009, serving a sentence as Provost before returning to full time faculty responsibilities in 2012.
At Drake, he is a professor of both biology and psychology and routinely teaches courses in both of these departments as well as the Environmental Science and Policy program, which is his primary base of operations. His courses include Animal Behavior, Ethological Methods, Environmental Psychology, Primatology, Primate Cognition, Introduction to Psychology, First-Year Seminar, Natural History Photography, and Zoo Biology. He has been awarded the Donald O. Hebb Award of the American Psychological Association and has been elected to membership in the Psychonomic Society and the Sigma Xi scientific honorary society.
His research is organized around the broad theme of the reciprocal influences between organisms and their environments, and has included work in the neuroanatomical and neurochemical influences of environmental enrichment, theoretical models for animal curiosity, and the development of new methods of measuring and quantifying animal behavior. His current projects include optimizing the captive management of endangered species in zoo environments and field studies to model and prevent crop raiding by chimpanzees along the boundaries of the Gishwati Forest Reserve in the Western Province of Rwanda.