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Dr. Susan Riechert, distinguished service professor of animal behavior and ecology at the University of Tennessee, retired earlier this year.

Knoxville News Sentinel

Dr. Susan Riechert sits calm and focused at a kitchen table covered in plastic containers filled with baby spiders. She gently plucks and places them with fearless confidence, setting up an experiment to see how aggressive they are.

“I’m sort of revisiting what baby spiderlings do,” Riechert explained. “The adults are highly competitive so you’d expect the babies to be competitive.”

This setup is typical for Riechert, a world-renowned behavioral ecologist who has studied spiders for decades, including at her kitchen table. Riechert is an emeritus professor of ecology and evolutionary biology beloved by her students at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

She retired earlier this year from most university duties after 47 years. But she isn’t slowing down.

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