Shala J. Hankison

Associate Professor of Biological Sciences


  • B.A., Ohio Wesleyan University
  • M.S., Ohio University
  • Ph.D., Clemson University


Shala Hankison’s research explores the role of animal behavior as an evolutionary mechanism, particularly in fishes. She focuses on how sexual selection, especially female mating preferences, interacts with other mechanisms to shape population divergence and speciation. By comparing natural and sexual selection, one can better understand the interaction of these forces in shaping the diversity of organisms we see around us. In addition, she is interested in variation in parental behavior and how that variation influences the behavior of offspring. This question has important implications as we strive to understand the interplay between nature and nurture.

She approaches these questions through both experimentation and behavior observation using multiple species of fishes, primarily sailfin mollies and threespined stickleback. By designing behavioral experiments in the laboratory, she is able to focus on specific behaviors of interest and understand the role of that behavior in an animal’s larger repertoire.

Hankison serves as Ohio Wesleyan’s liaison to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, and she coordinates the Science Lecture Series.

For more information on Shala Hankison, view her Curriculum Vitae.

Selected Publications / Presentations

  • S.J. Hankison, E.J. Gangloff, B. Fry, A. Arnold, A.J. Lashway, J.M. Betts, S.D. Otap, K. Walter, M.Y. Juergens, A. Crawford. 2022. Effects of reliance on stored sperm on reproduction in the sailfin molly Poecilia latipinnaJournal of Fish Biology. doi: 10.1111/jfb.15228.
  • S.J. Hankison & M.S. Palmer*. 2016. Assays to detect UV-reflecting structures and determine their importance in mate preference using the sailfin molly Poecilia latipinna. JoVE (Journal of Visualized Experiments) e54453-e54453.
  • M. S. Palmer* & S.J. Hankison. 2014. Use of ultraviolet cues in female mate preference in the sailfin molly, Poecilia latipinna. Acta Ethological 18 (2) 153-160.
  • S.J. Hankison & M.B. Ptacek. 2012. Geographic variation in genetic and morphological structure in the Mexican sailfin mollies, Poecilia velifera and P. petenensis. In: Viviparous Fishes II (M.C. Uribe and H. J. Grier, eds).  Homestead, Florida: New Life Publications, Inc.
  • A.M. Bell, S.J. Hankison, & K.L. Laskowski. 2009. The repeatability of behaviour: a meta-analysis.  Animal Behaviour 77:771-783.

Winner of the 2023 Bishop Herbert Welch Meritorious Teaching Award and the 2016 Sherwood Dodge Shankland Award for Encouragement of Teachers

Contact Info


Schimmel/Conrades Science Center #335
Ohio Wesleyan University
Delaware, OH 43015
P 740-368-3869