Marlene Zuk (born May 20, 1956) is an American evolutionary biologist and behavioral ecologist. She worked as professor of biology at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) until she transferred to the University of Minnesota in 2012. Her studies involve sexual selection and parasites.
Zuk was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and she is a native to Los Angeles. living in the city, she became interested in insects at a young age. At the University of California, Santa Barbara, Zuk started majoring in English, but decided to switch to Biology. After earning her Bachelor's degree, she wrote and taught for three years.
In 1982, she and W. D. Hamilton proposed the "good genes" hypothesis of sexual selection. Zuk started attending the University of Michigan in 1986 and earned her Ph.D. She completed her postdoctoral research at the University of New Mexico. She joined the UCR faculty in 1989. In April 2012, Zuk and her husband John Rotenberry transferred to the University of Minnesota, where they both work at the College of Biological Sciences.
Zuk's research of interest deals with the evolution of sexual behavior (especially in relation to parasites), mate choice, and insect song. A recurring theme in Zuk's writing and lectures is feminism and women in science. Zuk is critical of the paleolithic diet.
Her publications include:
- Sexual Selections: what we can and can't learn about sex from animals, (2002). University of California Press, Berkeley.
- Riddled with Life: Friendly Worms, Ladybug Sex, and the Parasites That Make Us Who We Are, (2007). Harcourt, Inc., New York.
- "Can bugs improve your sex life?" (August 1, 2011). Wall Street Journal.
- Sex on Six Legs: Lessons on Life, Love and Language from the Insect World (2011). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York.
- "Bring on the aerial ant sex" (2012). Los Angeles Times, April 29.
- "Anthropomorphism: A Peculiar Institution" (2012). The Scientist 26: 66-67.
- Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us about Sex, Diet, and How We Live (2013). W. W. Norton & Company, New York.
- "Scientist says paleo diet is not always based on way evolution really works". news.com.au. May 14, 2015. Retrieved July 26, 2015.