Susan Margulis


sue margulis canisius

BS, Bucknell University, Animal Behavior
MA, University of Colorado at Boulder
PhD, University of Chicago, Evolutionary Biology

HS 201A

Dr. Susan Margulis is a primatologist, focusing primarily on applied, zoo-based research questions. Her work includes behavioral observation, hormonal assessments (using non-invasively collected fecal samples, which are in ample supply in the zoo), and longitudinal behavioral monitoring. Recent work has included the evolution of color-change in white-cheeked gibbons, the impact of visual barriers on behavior and hormones in gorillas, and behavioral development in gorilla infants. Most of her research students collect data at the Buffalo Zoo – a short walk from campus. Many research projects are student-initiated, and encompass a wide range of questions and species, many outside of the primate realm. Dr. Margulis began her career as a zoo keeper (Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse NY), zoo researcher (Brookfield Zoo in Chicago), and zoo primate curator (Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago) before arriving at Canisius in 2009. Involving students in all aspects of zoo animal management and research is critical and has been tremendously important not just to her students, but to herself as well. Dr. Margulis travels with students several times a year, as part of her zoo exhibitry course (usually 5 zoos over 4 days), and her wildlife ecology and conservation course (several weeks in Africa in the summer).


  • Exceptional Service Award, Animal Behavior Society (2020)
  • Robert O. Wagner Professional Development Award, Association of Zoos and Aquariums
  • Canisius University Arts and Sciences Faculty Scholarship Award
  • Canisius University Academic Computing Advisory Committee Award
  • NSF S-STEM Grant (co-PI with PI A. Stewart and co-PI’s J. O’Brien and S. Morris): Science Scholars
  • Institute for Museum and Library Services National Leadership Grant (with co-PI A. Clark, SUNY Binghamton)


LeFauve, MK, and Margulis, SW. 2015. Functionality in tool use in Western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). Animal Behavior and Cognition, 2: 96-104.

Robbins, L. and Margulis, S.W. 2016. Music for the birds: effects of auditory enrichment on captive bird species. Zoo Biology. 35: 29-34.

Braude, S., Margulis, SW, Broder, D. 2017. The study of animal behavior provides valuable opportunities for original science fair projects: recommendations from The Animal Behavior Society, Education Committee. American Biology Teacher, 79: 438-441

Chertoff, S., Margulis, SW, and Rodgers, J. 2018. Visual processing of faces in juvenile Western lowland gorillas without the use of training or reinforcement: a pilot study. Animal Behavior and Cognition, 5: 292-299.

Margulis, SW, and Romanello, D. 2019. Data coding, measurement error, and reliability. In: Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior, 2nd Edition. pp 447-454.