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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Scott Pitnick

Blurry photo of Scott Pitnick with tattooed arms exposed and cool art behind him.

Weeden Professor of Biology


252 Life Sciences Complex


Research Interests

Sexual selection, speciation, evolution of reproductive and life history traits.


  • NSF Postdoctoral Fellow (1994)
  • Ph.D., Arizona State University (1992)
  • B.S., Cornell University (1986)


  • BIO 417: Laboratory in Animal Behavior and Evolution
  • BIO 400/600: Sexual Selection
  • BIO 454: Evolution
  • BIO 797: Topics in Evolution

Current Funding

  • National Science Foundation: DEB-1811805, EAGER: Drosophila evolutionary phenomics: Public resource to support genotype-phenotype studies (PI: S. Pitnick; Co-PIs: S. Dorus, N. Clark, E. Sedore) 2018-2020.
  • National Science Foundation: Research Experience for Teachers Supplement to DEB-1655840. 2018.
  • National Science Foundation: DEB-1655840, The molecular life history of male gametes (PI: S. Dorus; Co-PIs: S. Pitnick, J. M. Belote, M. F. Wolfner) 2017-2020.
  • National Institutes of Health, NICHD: R21-HD088910, Male Reproductive Health Program, Fertility and Infertility Branch. Sperm motility and molecular interactions in the reproductive tract (PI: S. Dorus; Co-PIs: S. Pitnick, M. F. Wolfner and J. Belote) 2017-2019.
  • National Science Foundation: IOS-1501328, DISSERTATION RESEARCH: The evolution of alternative mating tactics in the yellow dung fly (PI: S. Pitnick; Co-PI: B. Gress) 2015-2018.
  • Philanthropic Educational Organization: Scholarship Award (to C. McDonough) 2018-2019.
  • National Science Foundation: Graduate Research Fellowship (PI: C. McDonough) 2015-2018.

Selected Publications

  • Lüpold S, Pitnick S. 2018. Sperm form and function: what do we know about the role of sexual selection? Reproduction 155: 229-243.
  • Rohner PT, Pitnick S, Blanckenhorn WU, Snook RR, Bächli G, Lüpold S. 2018. Global macroecology of size, sexual size dimorphism, dispersal and range size in fruit flies (Diptera: Drosophilidae). Ecography 41: 1-11.
  • Lüpold, S., M. K. Manier, N. Puniamoorthy, C. Schoff, W. T. Starmer, S. H. Buckley Luepold, J. M. Belote and S. Pitnick. 2016. How sexual selection can drive the evolution of costly sperm ornamentation. Nature 533: 535-538.
  • Manier, M. K., J. M. Belote, W. T. Starmer, K. S. Berben, S. Lüpold, O. Ala-Honkola, W. F. Collins and S. Pitnick. 2013. Postcopulatory sexual selection generates speciation phenotypes in Drosophila. Current Biology 23: 1853-1862.
  • Lüpold, S., S. Pitnick, K. S. Berben, C. Blengini, J. M. Belote and M. K. Manier. 2013. Female mediation of competitive fertilization success in Drosophila melanogaster. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 110: 10693-10698.
  • Lüpold, S., M. K. Manier, K. S. Berben, K. J. Smith, B. D. Daley, S. H. Buckley, J. M. Belote and S. Pitnick. 2012. Sperm form, function and fitness: how multiple ejaculate traits determine competitive fertilization success. Current Biology 22: 1667-1672.
  • Higginson, D. M., K. B. Miller, K. A. Segraves and S. Pitnick. 2012. Female reproductive tract form drives the evolution of complex sperm morphology. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 109: 4538-4543.
  • Immler, S., S. Pitnick, G. A. Parker, S. Lüpold, K. Durrant, S. Calhim and T.R. Birkhead. 2011. Resolving variation in reproductive trade-offs: sperm production in birds and flies. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 108 : 5325-30.
  • Manier, M. K., J. M. Belote, K. S. Berben, D. Novikov, W. T. Stuart and S. Pitnick. 2010. Resolving mechanisms of competitive fertilization success in Drosophila melanogaster. Science 328: 354-357.
  • Birkhead, T.R., D.J. Hosken and S. Pitnick (eds.) 2009. Sperm Biology: An Evolutionary Perspective. Academic Press, London.
  • Bjork, A. and S. Pitnick. 2006. Intensity of sexual selection along the anisogamy-isogamy continuum. Nature 441: 742-745.
  • Miller, G. T. and S. Pitnick. 2002. Sperm-female coevolution in Drosophila. Science 298: 1230-1233.
  • Karr, T. L. and S. Pitnick. 1996. The ins and outs of fertilization. Nature 379: 405-406.


Career Advice From A Young Alum

(April 10, 2020)

Tierney Sovic ’19 offers tips for students to make the most out of their time at Syracuse University.

Forget Peacock Tails—Fruit Fly Sperm Tails Are the Most Extreme Ornaments

(May 25, 2016)

New paper in Nature explains why ornament may have evolved

Biology Student Wins NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

(Jan. 28, 2016)

Caitlin McDonough uses three-year award to study reproduction

A Natural Curiosity

(Oct. 30, 2015)

Biology professor demystifies science for students