This week I’ve completed my first week on the real job – teaching undergraduate college courses in Animal Behavior, Evolution, and a Seminar in Sexual Selection – Hip hop style. Yeah, you read write. I ain’t your typical science professor! I’m a Hip Hop Maven. So this won’t be like any science class you’ve ever had. Each week students (and I) will be reading, summarizing and analyzing research papers about animal behavior and evolution with a little twist. Students will be challenged to explore and scour hip hop song lyrics for examples of sexual selection concepts at play. Think of it as

or better yet Research Blogging meets BET:Uncut. Essentially we’ll be taking a look at Sex, Dating, and Relationships as depicted in popular culture and hip hop music and pointing out how examples of evolutionary biology principles at play. To start things out, I gave the students an introduction to

Mate Choice & Mate Competition as explained by Roxanne, Roxanne: UTFO (video, lyrics)

Cheating and Extra-pair copulation as explained by OPP: Naughty by Nature (video, lyrics)

Heighten Female reproductive signaling corresponding to menstrual cycle i.e. The 2007 research paper published in Evolution and Human Behavior Journal “Ovulatory cycle effects on tip earnings by lap dancers: economic evidence for human estrus?” as explained by Make It Rain (NSFW) Travis Porter (video, lyrics) or Fat Joe & Lil Wayne (video, lyrics). But really, this mash-up of science & hip hop wasn’t even hard. This paper was screaming to be explained with a rap song.

There is no assigned textbook for the course because I haven’t come across a text that I think is ideal for general audiences including undergraduate students. I will be drawing heavily from some great books.

Sexual Selection by Malte Andersson, 1994 Princeton University Press

Why Sex Matters: A Darwinian Look at Human Behavior by Bobbi Low, 2001 Princeton University Press

Sexual Nature/Sexual Culture edited by Paul Abramson & Steven Pinkerton, 1995, University of Chicago Press

A little more about my class is below. Anyone interested in auditing my class? I bet something like this is just the thing NESCent is looking for.


Course Title: Senior Seminar: Sexual Selection - The Birds, The Bees & Beats

Course Description: This senior seminar examines the evolutionary concept of sexual selection in the context of behavioral ecology using popular culture references of hip hop music and videos. Students will read and summarize primary and secondary literature to explore primary concepts of evolutionary biology and behavioral ecology.

Course Philosophy: This course broadly exposes students to evolutionary and behavioral ecological processes that promote the vast diversity of sexual and reproductive behaviors of humans and animals. The course deliberately blurs the line of objectivity and inserts human as both the observer and subject alongside that of other mammals, birds, insects and other vertebrates species. By allowing students to examine modern human behavior – including their own – it is my hope that they can fully understand and comprehend the role of evolutionary processes in general, and on human sexual behavior, in particular. The curriculum aims to challenge upper-division undergraduate students by creatively asking them to answer these questions:

1. What drives individuals to mate/reproduce?

2. How have humans and animals achieved mating/reproductive success?

3. How do we, humans, express our ‘sexually selected’ behavior in pop culture and hip hop media?

Course Outline: Students are required to lead weekly discussions that dissect scientific papers on topics related to mate choice, mate competition, courtship, sexual dimorphism, mating strategies, alternate mating tactics and all of the other highlights of sexual selection. Like conventional seminar courses students will have to reference scientific literature and write papers, but this course allows them to creatively apply these concepts using multiple media outlets.

Course topics


  • Male/female differences Secondary sex characteristics/ Reproductive signaling
  • Coitus/Orgasm/Sexual Pleasure
  • Attraction/attractivity


  • Courtship strategies
  • Intrasexual selection
  • Intersexual selection/Mate choice & Sexual Conflict
  • Resource holding potential
  • Reproductive capacity (female)
  • Alternative mating strategies
  • Sperm competition


  • Monogamy vs. everything else
  • Everything else: Promiscuity, Polygamy, Polyandry, Polyamory
  • Cheating/EPC/EPF

Presentations: Each week a student leads a discussion of a course topic based on required readings. Additional papers can also be shared (but be sure to designate which is the required paper). Presenters and students will discuss the papers, including offering music/video or other pop culture examples to share related to the topic.

Writing Assignments: Reading and comprehending scientific literature is a very important skill. These assignments are designed to help students delve more deeply into topics as well as interact with primary and secondary literature. Students will write a synopsis of the hypotheses and research trends related to this topic. Summarize the evolutionary concept and thoroughly explain the concept through a hip hop/pop culture lens and also include original sources of research, too. Both scientific and media reference should be included.