In Memoriam: Stephen E. Glickman (1933 – 2020)
June 5, 2020
It is with great sadness that we write to inform the society of Steve Glickman’s passing. He died peacefully on May 22, 2020 with his wife, Krista and son, Matthew at his side and his daughter Lauren in constant contact after a recent visit. Steve was a first-rate scholar, leaving behind a legacy with his contributions to behavioral endocrinology, animal behavior, evolutionary/integrative biology, psychology, and the society (SBN and formerly CRB).
Steve was born in The Bronx, NY in 1933. His mother was an accomplished piano teacher affiliated with Julliard and his father was a junior high school teacher. After graduating from Brooklyn College in 1954 with a degree in Psychology, he went on to attend graduate school at Northwestern University. A visit from Donald Hebb convinced Steve to transfer to McGill University in 1956 where he obtained a PhD in physiological psychology, supervised by Peter Milner and Hebb. His dissertation research investigated the effects of electrical stimulation of the brain on learning and the reinforcing properties of arousal, with emphasis on the reticular activating system. Three years later he wrote a foundational article about perseverative neural processes and consolidation of memory traces that was years ahead of its time and foreshadowed an explosive growth of research on brain mediation of learning and memory.
Between 1958 and 1965 Steve was a junior faculty member at Northwestern, with a 2 year hiatus as a Miller fellow at Berkeley sponsored by Frank Beach, where he did research on skunks and rats, but most importantly completed the manuscript describing his landmark study of curiosity in zoo animals at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. For this work, he characterized and quantified the reactions of more than 200 zoo animals to a standardized set of novel objects that revealed significant differences among various taxonomic groups, both in the quantity and form of object manipulation. In 1965, Steve accepted an associate professorship at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he stayed for 2 years prior to accepting a position at Berkeley where he spent the remainder of his career.
Steve’s laboratory research was always comparative, including studies of primitive mammals, land and aquatic turtles, gerbils and cats, skunks, rats, moles, hyenas and other species. 1967 saw publication of the landmark ‘A Biological Theory of Reinforcement’ by Glickman and Schiff which, to this day, remains an oft cited classic. In this seminal paper, they argued that reinforcement evolved as a mechanism to ensure species-typical responses to appropriate stimuli and considered potential neural mechanisms of control.
Beginning in the mid 1980’s, Steve received NIH funding to establish a colony of spotted hyenas at the field station in the Berkeley hills above campus. Steve’s work with spotted hyenas focused on the neuroendocrine mechanisms underlying sex differences in this atypical species, a social carnivore known for its female-dominated society, where females have masculinized genitalia. For this work, Steve focused on the hormones responsible for this unusual anatomy during sexual differentiation and the evolutionary costs/benefits of this masculinization versus the dominance imparted. His worked also examined sex differences in a number of behaviors, including juvenile play, reproduction, and social status. Steve assembled an impressive group of collaborators, many of them SBN members, working across levels of analysis. Prior to Steve’s death, an effort to rename the field station to ‘The Stephen Glickman Field Station for the Study of Behavior, Ecology and Reproduction’ was spearheaded by Eileen Lacey at Berkeley and supported by many colleagues in several departments. The request received final approval in early June.
In his writing Steve emphasized the interplay of evolution and animal behavior, a passion he imparted in his lectures and teaching. His lectures on Darwin and Wallace were captivating. Wallace was a particular favorite because his underdog status appealed to Steve who, with his wife Krista, replicated one of Wallace’s most meaningful journeys. His undergraduate lectures on the history of Psychology were equally fascinating and attended by faculty and students alike.
As chair of the Psychology department for 5 years and through service on many committees he championed the fair treatment of women and people of color and forged links among different disciplines within the Psychology department. A most remarkable set of encomiums from colleagues, former students and friends consistently mentioned his generosity, kindness, compassion, modesty, creativity and remarkable teaching skills.
We mourn a dear friend and colleague and celebrate his outstanding accomplishments.
Lance J. Kriegsfeld