Dr. Chelsea Cook

Dr. Chelsea Cook
Dr. Chelsea CookMarquette University

Wehr Life Sciences

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

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

Cook, C.N., Lemanski, N., Mosqueiro, T., Gadau, J., Ozturk, C., Pinter-Wollman, N. B.H. Smith. Heritable Learning Phenotypes Drive Collective Cognition. Accepted at Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Sezen, E*., E. Dereszkiewicz*, A. Hozan*, M. Bennett, C. Ozturk, B.H. Smith, C.N. Cook. Heritable cognitive phenotypes and reward pathway influence appetitive learning in honey bees. In Review: Annals of the Entomological Society of America.

Lemanski, N., Cook, C.N., Gadau, J., Ozturk, C., Smith, B.H., N. Pinter-Wollman. The effect of individual learning on collective foraging behavior in honey bees in differently structured landscapes. In Review. On BioRxiv: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/817270v1

Smith, B.H. & C.N. Cook. 2020. Experimental Psychology Meets Behavioral Ecology: What Laboratory Studies of Learning Polymorphisms Mean for Learning Under Natural Conditions, and Vice Versa. Journal of Neurogenetics. 34: 178-183. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01677063.2020.1718674

Lemanski, N., Cook, C.N., Gadau, J., Ozturk, C., Smith, B.H., N. Pinter-Wollman. 2019. A multiscale review of behavioral variation in collective foraging behavior in honey bees. Insects. 10(11), 370.


*Undergraduate Author


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

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

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


Justine Nguyen (Ph.D. student)

Dr. Cook is currently accepting new Ph.D. students into her lab

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Department of Biological Sciences

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

(414) 288-7355

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