When Dr. Jennifer Koop joined the Biology Department in September 2015, she brought her passion for parasites with her.
Earning her PhD in Biology from the University of Utah and completing her post-doctoral work at the University of Arizona, Koop's research aims to answer a big question - how and why are parasites successful invaders?
"The ability to predict how parasites will affect hosts across spatial and temporal scales is important from both scientific and conservation perspectives," she said.
An evolutionary biologist, Dr. Koop focuses her research on three systems - Darwin's finches, aquatic faucet snail, and Atlantic sea scallops. In her research, Koop explores the interactions between each of these host organisms and the parasites that infect them.
Most recently, Koop was awarded a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for her proposal, "Transmission of apicomplexan infection and development of gray meat in Atlantic sea scallops, Placopecten magellanicus." The proposal was submitted with Susan Inglis, who will be joining Koop as her research associate.
"Over the next two years, we will conduct a number of experiments aimed at identifying the progression of gray meat symptoms in Atlantic sea scallops," Koop said. "Our research is likely to have a major impact on the local community because we will be providing fisherman and policy makers with the information they need to design better management practices for Atlantic sea scallop fishing."
Not only does Koop's research impact the local community, it also impacts her students. Her students are involved in all components of her research, learning biological skills both at the bench and in the field. The experiments they carry out in the lab can be used as case-studies and classroom examples.
"My students earn a unique opportunity to ask questions about everything−from the justification for the study, to the rationale for the design, to the interpretation of the results," Koop said.