Kukekova Lab



ANSC 363, “Behavior of Domestic Animals” (Anna Kukekova)

4 credits, taught in the spring

Overview: What is so special about domesticated animals that they can live in such close proximity to humans? Why is the dog our best friend? Can we trust a tamed tiger? This course is aimed to help us learn about behaviors of companion and livestock species and the evolution of the domesticated species from their wild progenitors. The course will apply an interdisciplinary approach and cover eight key themes: the role of behavior in the evolution of domestic animals, development and behavior, social behavior, biological rhythms, emotions, cognition, learning, and behavioral aspects of animal management. To shed light on particular abilities and limitations of the domesticated animals, attention will be given to the comparison between domesticated species and their wild ancestors. In addition to the presentation of the scientific concepts and discoveries, the course will discuss a range of approaches used in animal behavior research. Students will have an opportunity to work in teams reviewing publications on specific animal behaviors. The course assignments are designed to expose you to different aspects of behavior of domesticated animals, with an overall goal of promoting a better understanding the needs of the animals that play a critical role in our lives.

Objectives: The goal of the course is to have students be familiar with the basic concepts and recent discoveries in animal behavior research with specific focus on the behavior of domesticated species.


ANSC 499, "Advanced Genetics and Genomics" (Jonathan Beever and Anna Kukekova)

4 credits, taught in the fall


We frequently encounter the words “gene” and “genome” in the popular press these days. The growth of next generation sequencing technologies has dramatically reduced the cost of sequencing, making it feasible to sequence more individuals and species. The enormous load of data which new technologies produce requires proper bioinformatics analysis. Once analyzed, the sequencing data provide novel information to different scientific fields, including biology, medicine, and agriculture. This course will be a journey through genome biology. We will learn about current methods used in genetics and genomics to better understand genome function, genome evolution, the genetic architecture of complex traits, the genetic basis of human and animal diseases, and animal productivity. To build a strong foundation for the application of novel genomic tools, the course will provide an overview of main concepts in genetics and genomics, including gene-environment interaction and epigenetic modifications. The focus of the course will be on mammals, but novel applications of the new sequencing technologies to other systems will be discussed. In addition to the presentation of scientific concepts and discoveries, the course will include a significant practical component. Students will learn software programs used for genetic mapping and bioinformatics analysis, will review and present scientific papers, and will write a research paper proposing their own experiments. The course will benefit students pursuing careers in genetics/genomics, but will also be attractive for students interested in the application of genomics to different aspects of their lives.


The goal of the course is for students to be familiar with the basic concepts and methodologies used in mammalian genetics and genomics. Students will strengthen their abilities to read and understand scientific papers published in this field and to design their own experiments.