GRADUATE WORK - OPENING
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN DOING GRADUATE WORK AT STANISLAUS STATE, DR. COOPER IS CURRENTLY ACCEPTING STUDENTS FOR FALL 2019. CONTACT HER VIA EMAIL, AND INCLUDE A DESCRIPTION OF YOUR RESEARCH INTERESTS AND PAST EXPERIENCE, AS WELL AS A WORKING COPY OF YOUR COLLEGE TRANSCRIPT.
Full-time Lecturer in Biological Sciences
Ph.D., Purdue University
Population genetics, behavioral genetics, evolution of mammalian social behavior.
Dr. Cooper’s research program (which includes both undergraduate students and Master’s-level graduate students) uses the California ground squirrel to address questions about mammalian genetics, ecology and evolution. The Central Valley of California is a drastically altered landscape, with almost every square mile of arable land dedicated to food production, but CGS population densities are very high in the Valley even after years of drought. CGS are deserving of special attention because they have maintained historical ranges in the face of extensive and extreme modifications to their environment. What traits allow the California ground squirrel to adapt to a human-altered landscape, and what factors are driving the expansion of CGS populations?
Dr. Cooper’s research team addresses these questions, using combined ecological, behavioral, microbiological and molecular approaches. Her students have been live-trapping CGS in three National Wildlife Refuges in the Central Valley since 2015. Undergraduate students on her team collaborate on mini-projects, which they design and implement themselves. Students use genetic markers to characterize the mating system and dispersal pattern in CGS, and to determine if individual genome-wide heterozygosity predicts traits important for fitness, such as fluctuating bilateral symmetry, parasite load and gut microbiome profile. Others perform vegetation surveys to assess food availability, and use ArcGIS to map CGS burrow density onto the landscape. Recently, students have explored how remote cameras can capture natural foraging behavior.