Dr. Wendy R. Hood
Curator of Mammals, Auburn Museum of Natural History
Office: 315 Rouse Life Science Bldg, 334-844-7437
Lab: 308 Funchess Hall, 334-844-1694
Mail: 101 Rouse Life Science Bldg, Auburn, AL 36849
Honors and Awards:
2015: NSF CAREER Grant
2016: Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award
2020: Auburn University, College of Science and Mathematics, Young
I became interested in understanding how and why condition and reproductive performance varies among individuals as an undergraduate observing the foraging and nursing patterns of Steller sea lions on a small island just off the coast of California. I saw first hand that maternal effort can play a formative role in how fast pups grow and whether or not they survive. Today, I continue to be fascinated by why life-history traits vary among individuals and how the environment and maternal effects contribute to these differences.
The questions that we address in my lab largely focus on the critical periods of growth, reproduction, and senescence. Differences in performance during these periods are intriguing because of their direct impacts on fitness. I maintain an active laboratory with a post-doc, grad students and undergraduates. You can learn more about the current research projects that we're working on in 'the Hood' under Research.
Post-doctoral Fellow and Graduate Students
Post-doctoral fellow; started in January 2019
I am an evolutionary and comparative physiologist interested in reproductive and exercise physiology. My research generally addresses the following questions: 1) what are the underlying physiological mechanisms that allow individuals to have higher reproductive and exercise performance? 2) what are the potential costs of exercise and reproduction? and 3) what are the mechanisms underlying costs of exercise and reproduction (i.e. physiological costs)? My current research in the Hood lab aims to understand how individual variation in endoplasmic reticulum stress and mitochondrial physiology is associated with whole-organism physiology, as well as life-history traits.
Ph.D. student, started at Auburn in 2017
My research interests lie at the crossroads of functional morphology and whole-organism performance. In particular, I’m interested in how mitochondrial behavior and morphology at the cellular level influence animal reproductive success and respiratory function. My current projects focus on how ultraviolet radiation and reproductive performance influence mitochondrial structure in copepod myocytes.
Ph.D. student, started at Auburn in 2017
Female reproductive success naturally declines with increasing age, however, whether the cost of reproduction reduces the longevity of an individual is still a matter requiring greater investigation. Reproduction and lactation are highly energetically demanding processes likely sequestering energy from mitochondria. Ashley is investigating how mitochondria are affected by reproduction and how that ultimately influences longevity. To do this, she maintains a colony of Mus musculus in semi-natural enclosures and monitors the body temperatures for reproductive and non-reproductive female mice. At the end of the study, she will study their mitochondrial respiratory capacity, physical fitness, and look for markers of oxidative damages, senescence markers, and the types of mutations present in the liver, brain, and skeletal muscle tissues. She is also collecting the same data from animals of different age groups in a more traditional laboratory setting to understand how aging influences mitochondrial function and performance.
Ph.D. student, started at Auburn in 2018
Currently, Shelby is working on understanding the links that may exist between animal behavior and underlying physiological processes like mitochondrial function, or ER stress. By studying animal personality, as well as individual variation in response and success she hopes to better illustrate these connections. Additionally, she is working to validate semi-natural enclosures as valuable tools for understanding variables in an ecological context.
Ph.D. student, started at Auburn in 2019
Kaylene is interested in understanding how individual variation in physiology like mitochondrial and endoplasmic reticulum function play a role in adapting to different environments. In addition, she is interested how physiological variation affects reproduction and other life-history traits. Her current project is working to understand how physiology changes under lab, field, and semi-natural enclosure environments, and so working to validate semi-natural enclosures as an ecologically relevant setting for future studies.
Ph.D. student, started at Auburn in 2020
Emma is an avian biologist and master bird bander studying various aspects of bird migration from both an ecological and physiological perspective. Emma's thesis research will focus on understanding the physiological underpinning of migration in neotropical birds. However, she also works with a variety of avian groups from hummingbirds to birds of prey and has participated in research throughout the Americas from Saskatchewan, Canada to Belize. Emma is co-advised by Dr. Geoff Hill.
Undergraduate completing independent project
Pre-med student at Auburn
Erin is the recipient of an AU undergraduate research fellowship. She is evaluating female dominance hierarchies in our house mice.
Undergraduates working on ongoing projects - summer 2020
Hood lab technician
BS in Pre-med, Auburn University
LouAnn worked in the lab as an undergraduate assistant before becoming our technician in summer 2020. She is currently in Biological Sciences master's non-thesis program.
We work closely with 3 lab groups:
Biological Sciences, Auburn University
The Hill lab studies sexual selection, speciation, and mitonuclear interactions primarily in avian models. We complete some empirical studies together (including our 2019 paper in Proceedings B) but, we mostly help each other become better scientists. We have weekly lab meetings together, where we give each other feedback on our manuscripts, presentations, and have professional development discussions. We often attend meetings together and regularly congregate to celebrate each other's successes.
Kinesiology, Auburn University
We have worked closely with Andreas Kavazis and his lab since 2013. Most of our mitochondrial research is done in collaboration with his lab. Andreas and his graduate students, including Hailey Parry (pictured with Andreas), have trained many of my students in methods used to quantify mitochondrial physiology. Andreas and I have been co-PI's on several federal grants and, with Geoff Hill, on the AU president award that funded the AU MitoMobile.
Pharmacy and the Peromyscus Genetic Stock Center, U. of South Carolina
We have been working with the Kiaris lab since 2017 when we were awarded an NSF-EPSCoR grant. Hippokratis is the director of the Peromyscus Genetic Stock Center. Our collaboration focuses on understanding the ecological and evolutionary significance of variation in ER stress and its relevance to mitochondrial physiology.