Dr. Chelsea Cook

Dr. Chelsea Cook
Dr. Chelsea CookMarquette University

Wehr Life Sciences, 002

MilwaukeeWI53201United States of America
(414) 288-4105Cook Research Team Website

Assistant Professor

Social Behavior, Neurobiology, Behavioral Genetics


B.S., 2009, SUNY Cortland, Cortland, NY

Ph.D., 2016, University of Colorado, Boulder

Post-doctoral Fellow, 2016-2020, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ

Courses Taught

BIOL 4502 Experimental Neurobiology 

BIOL 1420 Introduction to Environmental Biology 

BIOL  8004 Advanced Experimental Design for Graduate Students 

Research Interests

The Cook lab takes a holistic approach to understand social behavior. We aim to explain why and how collective behavior occurs at every level; from the collective, to individual behavior, to the physiology and genetics of the individual. Ecological context is critical for understanding social behaviors, so we also explore the environmental conditions that elicit many social behaviors, such as the need for food or a change in temperature.

General research framework in the Cook Lab

Figure 1: General research framework in the Cook Lab.


Honey bees are an excellent model system to explore questions about collective behavior. Honey bees perform many collective behaviors, including foraging and thermoregulation. Individual honey bees are incredibly smart and can be trained just like dogs! The mechanisms of behavior are well defined in honey bees, and the genome is well mapped. Finally, honey bee colonies exist in many different environments, which allows for us to understand the ecological importance of collective behaviors, and how information may be communicated as environmental conditions shift. Right now, we are focused on two main research areas:

A photo of honey bees fanning at the entrance of the colony. They perform this behavior to cool their colony down. Photo by Alex Wild.

Figure 2: A photo of honey bees fanning at the entrance of the colony. They perform this behavior to cool their colony down. Photo by Alex Wild.


Honey Bee Thermoregulation: Honey bees strictly regulate the temperature of their colony. When it is cold, honey bees shiver to keep developing brood and the queen warm. When it is hot, honey bees and circulate cool air into the colony by fanning. Fanning is performed by a relatively small task group (3-50 bees) but is critical behavior for the survival of the colony, as overheated larvae can die. When bees are in larger groups, they are more likely to fan, and fan at lower temperatures, compared to when bees are in small groups or in isolation. A major question that we aim to answer is what information are bees using and communicating to know when to fan?


Social Isolation: From egg to death, honey bees constantly interact with other bees. Anecdotal evidence shows that when bees are isolated for too long, even with all the food and water they need, they will die. Research in our lab will focus on exploring the physiology and behavioral implications of social isolation.


The Cook lab commits to developing an inclusive and supportive space to do the best science we can.

Professional Affiliations

Animal Behavior Society

International Union for the Study of Social Insects

Entomological Society of America

Selected Publications

Lei, H., Haney, S., Jernigan, C., Guo, X.J., Cook, C.N., Bazhenov, M., and B.H. Smith. 2022. Novelty detection in early olfactory processing of the honey bee, Apis mellifera. PLOS One. 17 (3), e0265009. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0265009

Cook, C. N., Freeman, A. R., Liao, J. C., & Mangiamele, L. A. (2021). The Philosophy of Outliers: Reintegrating Rare Events Into Biological Science. Integrative and comparative biology.

Sezen, E*., E. Dereszkiewicz*, A. Hozan*, M. Bennett, C. Ozturk, B.H. Smith, C.N. Cook. 2020. Heritable cognitive phenotypes influence appetitive learning but not extinction in honey bees. Annals of the Entomological Society of America. https://doi.org/10.1093/aesa/saab023

Cook. C.N., Lawson, S. & Rehan, S. 2019. Biogenic amines shift during the solitary-to- subsocial transition in the small carpenter bee, Ceratina calcarata. Apidologie. 50: 90-99. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13592-018-0624-9

Kaspar, R., Cook, C.N., Breed, M.D. 2018. Experienced individuals influence the thermoregulatory fanning behaviour in honey bee colonies. Animal Behaviour. 142:69-76. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2018.06.004


Current Funding

National Science Foundation Integrative Organismal Systems Grant (2023-2026)

Previous Funding

USDA Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Grant (2018-2020)

USDA Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Grant (2017)

NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowship (2018-2019)


Casey Lambert (Ph.D. Student)
Rachael Halby (Ph.D. student)
Justine Nguyen (Ph.D. student)

Dr. Cook is not currently accepting new Ph.D. students into her lab

Faculty Directory

Faculty Directory

Staff Directory

Emeriti & Former Faculty


Report an accessibility problem

To report another problem, please contact michelle.mynlieff@marquette.edu.



Department of Biological Sciences

Wehr Life Sciences, 109
1428 W. Clybourn St.
Milwaukee, WI 53233

(414) 288-7355

Contact Us


  Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube