Jessica Perry Hekman, DVM, PhD

jph @ dogzombie . com
jphekman @ arborius . net
ImpactStory page


University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

PhD, 2017: Animal Sciences / Genomics, Genetics, and Bioinformatics, in Dr. Anna Kukekova's laboratory. Dissertation title: "Transcriptome Analysis of the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis in the Experimentally Domesticated Fox."

Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

DVM, 2012

Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

MS, 2012: Comparative Biomedical Sciences, "Stress in hospitalized dogs"

Harvard University

AB, History and Literature of the Middle Ages, 1995


President, Functional Dog Collaborative 2020-present

Computational Biologist 2020-2022

The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, in Karlsson Lab

Post-doctoral associate 2017-2020

The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, in Karlsson Lab

Shelter medicine internship 2012-2013

University of Florida, Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program, completed 2013

Computer programming consultant 2000-2012

Managed complicated structured data, for online publishing and other ventures, using XML, SQL, Java, PHP, Perl, AJAX, and other technologies

Online publishing developer 1996-2000

Wrote tools to transform printed material into online version.

Research Interests
  • Canine domestication
  • Canine stress; the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis
  • Canine genetics
  • Data analysis for population management in animal shelters
  • Shelter behavior; protocols for enrichment of animals in shelters; protocols for behavior modification of behaviorally challenged animals in shelters

ScienceSeeker 2010-2015

Acted as chief architect of a science blogging indexing site which aims to provide order to the chaos of the science blogosphere

The Dog Zombie 2009-present

Maintain blog about the stress response in mammals, canine behavior, canine domestication, shelter medicine, animal welfare, and other topics


Online classes and webinars

Taught online classes on genetics, neurobiology, endocrinology, and shelter behavioral assessment for a lay audience with the International Association of Applied Animal Behavior Consultants, the Pet Professional Guild, the Academy for Dog Trainers, and the Association of Professional Dog Trainers.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Assisted Dr. Anna Kukekova with her class for upper-level undergraduates, Behavior of Domestic Animals. Developed presentation topics for students, presented quizzes using student response system (iClicker), and lectured on shelter medicine and behavior problems in dogs and cats.


Morrill K, Hekman J, Li X, McClure J, Logan B, Goodman L, Gao M, Dong Y, Alonso M, Carmichael E, Snyder-Mackler N. Ancestry-inclusive dog genomics challenges popular breed stereotypes. Science. 2022 Apr 29;376(6592):eabk0639.

Chen FL, Zimmermann M, Hekman JP, Lord KA, Logan B, Russenberger J, Leighton EA, Karlsson EK. Advancing genetic selection and behavioral genomics of working dogs through collaborative science. Frontiers in Veterinary Science. 2021 Sep 6;8:1017.

Rosenfeld CS, Hekman JP, Johnson JL, Lyu Z, Ortega MT, Joshi T, Mao J, Vladimirova AV, Gulevich RG, Kharlamova AV, Acland GM. "Hypothalamic transcriptome of tame and aggressive silver foxes (Vulpes vulpes) identifies gene expression differences shared across brain regions." Genes, Brain and Behavior, Vol 19, Issue 1, January 2020.

Chauhan G, McClure J, Hekman JP, Marsh PW, Bailey JA, Daniels RF, Genereux DP, Karlsson EK. "Combining citizen science and genomics to investigate tick, pathogen and commensal microbiome at single-tick resolution." Frontiers in Genetics, Vol 10, January 2020.

Kukekova AV, Johnson JL, Xiang X, Feng S, Liu S, Rando HM, Kharlamova AV, Herbeck Y, Serdyukova NA, Xiong Z, Beklemischeva V..., Hekman JP, et al. Red fox genome assembly identifies genomic regions associated with tame and aggressive behaviours. Nature ecology & evolution. 2018 Sep;2(9):1479-91.

Hekman JP, Johnson JL, Edwards W, Vladimirova AV, Gulevich RG, Ford AL, Kharlamova AV, Herbeck Y, Acland GM, Raetzman LT, Trut LN. "Anterior pituitary transcriptome suggests differences in ACTH release in tame and aggressive foxes." G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics, Vol 1, Issue 3, pages 859-73, March 2018.

Hekman JP, Johnson JL, Kukekova AV. "Transcriptome Analysis in Domesticated Species: Challenges and Strategies." Bioinformatics and Biology Insights, Vol 9, Suppl 4, pages 21-31, February 2016.

Hekman JP, Karas AZ, Sharp CR. Psychogenic stress in hospitalized dogs: cross species comparisons, implications for health care, and the challenges of evaluation." Animals, Vol. 4, Issue 2, pages 331-347, June 2014.

Hekman JP, Karas AZ, Dreschel NA. Salivary cortisol concentrations and behavior in a population of healthy dogs hospitalized for elective procedures. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Vol. 141, Issue 3, pages 149-157, November 2012.

Hekman, Jessica; Karas, Alicia (2013): Salivary cortisol in healthy hospitalized dogs. figshare.