Michelle Solensky


Honors Program Director




BS in Biology, University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire

PhD in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota

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Contact Information

701-252-3467 ext. 5458

239 Orlady Hall

Office Hours

Monday: 10-11am, 1-3pmTuesday: 1-3pmWednesday:Thursday:Friday: 10-11amSaturday:Sunday:

Notes: I’m generally available and happy to talk with students between 8:30am – 5pm weekdays, except when I’m in class or a meeting.


Dr. Michelle Solensky (she/her) was born and raised in Jamestown, ND. She spent time in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Ohio before returning to Jamestown in 2009 to join the biology faculty at the University of Jamestown. She earned a B.S. in Biology (Chemistry minor) at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where she studied songbird nesting behavior and wood turtle demography, followed by a Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior (History of Science supporting program) from the University of Minnesota. Her dissertation focused on reproductive behavior of monarch butterflies. During her time at the University of Jamestown, her academic areas of interest have expanded beyond behavior and ecology to include also human physiology, and she directs and teaches in the Honors Program.

My Favorite Course

I enjoy learning how things work, which makes the physiology in Human Anatomy and Physiology a lot of fun. I also enjoy thinking about how we learn the things we know and helping students better understand that research process, so any course with a research component is fun (e.g. Animal Behavior, Biology Research Methods). I find myself cheering for the underdog, and this planet is full of weird organisms that most people don’t know about (e.g. the bone-eating snotflower), so I really enjoy Invertebrate Zoology.  I enjoy discussing a wide variety of topics with students who are similarly excited about learning, so the Honors seminars I teach are a fun way to move beyond biology. The Field Ecology of Costa Rica allows me to experience the amazing biodiversity of the tropics with students in the middle of winter, which is pretty great.  And now that I’ve named most of the classes I teach – I guess they are all my favorites!

Selected Scholarly and Creative Works

*Indicates student co-author

Oberhauser, K.S., M. Anderson, S. Anderson, W. Caldwell, A.P. DeAnda, M.D. Hunter, M. Kaiser and M.J. Solensky.  2015.  Lacewings, wasps, and flies – oh my: insect enemies take a bite out of monarchs.  In Monarchs in a Changing World: Biology and Conservation of an Iconic Insect, K.S. Oberhauser, K. Nail and S. Altizer, eds.  Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY.

Johnson, H.*, M. Solensky, D. Satterfield, A. Davis.  2014. Does skipping a meal matter to a butterfly’s appearance?  Effects of larval food stress on wing morphology and color in monarch butterflies.  PLoS ONE 9(4): e93492.  doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0093492.

Atterholt, A. L.* and M. J. Solensky.  2010.  Effects of larval rearing density and food availability on adult size and coloration in monarch butterflies (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae).  Journal of Entomological Science 45: 366-377.

Solensky, M. J. and K. S. Oberhauser.  2009.  Sperm precedence in monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus).  Behavioral Ecology.  20: 328-334.  doi: 10.1093/beheco/arp003

Solensky, M. J. and K. S. Oberhuaser.  2009.  Male monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) adjust ejaculates in response to intensity of sperm competition.  Animal Behaviour.  77: 465-472.

Davis, A. K., N. Cope*, A. Smith* and M. J. Solensky.  2007.  Wing color predicts future mating success in male monarch butterflies.  Annals of the Entomological Society of America 100: 339-344.

Oberhauser, K. O. and M. J. Solensky, editors.  2004.  The Monarch Butterfly: Biology and Conservation.  Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY.

Awards and Grants

  • Outstanding Woman Leader, Zonta Club, 2016
  • Professor of the Year, University of Jamestown, 2012 and 2023
  • National Science Foundation Workshop Support Award, 2011 (“Vision, Change and the Case Studies Approach: An Education Workshop”, Co-PI with Penny Bernstein and Cynthia Wei, Animal Behavior Society Education Committee)
  • National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, 2002-2003 (“Mechanisms of female mate choice in a coercive mating system.”)
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship, 1998-2002

Professional Memberships and Affiliations

Animal Behavior Society