Stan Kuczaj, professor of psychology and director of The University of Southern Mississippi’s internationally recognized Marine Mammal Behavior and Cognition Laboratory, died April 14 at his home in Hattiesburg. He was 65.
Kuczaj joined the faculty of the university’s College of Education and Psychology in 1996. In addition to his duties as professor and director of the laboratory, his service included a stint as chairman of the Department of Psychology.
“Dr. Kuczaj was a beloved professor and respected colleague in the College of Education and Psychology, and his death represents an irreplaceable loss for all of us,” said Ann P. Blackwell, dean of the college of education and psychology. “He brought great distinction to The University of Southern Mississippi through teaching and research that benefitted students from around the world.”
Kuczaj was president of the American Psychological Association’s Division 6, and recently selected editor-in-chief of the Oxford University Press Encyclopedia of Mammalian Social Behavior.
“The Department of Psychology and The University of Southern Mississippi lost a valued member of our family today,” said Joe Olmi, chairman of the psychology department. “Stan Kuczaj was a brilliant scientist, a dear friend and a cherished teacher and mentor. His loss will be felt deeply by us, by his family and by many others.”
Kuczaj and his graduate students conducted international research concerning comparative cognition, marine mammal behavior, communication and play for on marine mammals and other animals both in the field and in captive facilities. His work gained international recognition, having been featured in National Geographic, on Public Broadcasting Service, BBC and Japanese Public Television.
During Kuczaj’s tenure at USM, Marine Mammal Behavior and Cognition Laboratory projects received grant support from the Office of Naval Research and the U.S. Department of Commerce, among other renowned agencies and organizations.
“On behalf of the Southern Miss family, I extend our sincere condolences to Dr. Kuczaj’s family, friends, students and colleagues,” Provost Steven Moser said.