Under PressureJust how stress-related hormones help wild animals—as opposed to humans and lab specimens—survive is relatively unknown. Tufts University biology professor L. Michael Romero ’88’s Tempests, Poxes, Predators, and People: Stress in Wild Animals and How They Cope (Oxford University Press) represents an exciting leap forward for this field. What inspired you? Essentially, stress in nature is caused by famine, predation, weather, infectious disease, and social competition. Since only the latter impacts most Western humans, I hope understanding stress in wild animals will give us insight into how stress responses evolved. For wild animals, there’s a sixth: humans. I want us to use our understanding of stress physiology in a conservation context. Where’d you research? A bunch of us have been in the high Arctic, up in Alaska and Greenland, trying to understand birds’ hormonal response to poor weather conditions. I’ve also spent a number of years studying marine iguanas in the Galapagos and how stress hormones help them survive famine caused by El Niño. Favorite field stories? I got invited by Fish and Wildlife researchers to go out onto the pack ice to count the eider migration—eiders are deep- sea-diving ducks that come into Alaska to breed. We turn around and 80 yards away was a polar bear, stalking us. Talk about stress! How did Swarthmore shape you? I was originally a double major in math and philosophy, but I became very good friends with Professor Greg Florant, who studied marmots. He convinced me biology was a wonderful way to go and I followed in his footsteps. We still collaborate. What’s next for you? Developing a better theory of stress and applying it to exploring how human-caused disruption—especially the global climate change—affects the stress responses in animals.