Robin Cooper

  • Associate Professor
  • Biology
  • Neuroscience
  • Neuroscience and Neurobiology
  • Physiology
Rm 226 Morgan Bldg., 675 Rose St., Lexington, KY. 40506-0225, USA
(859) 257-5950
Research Interests:

BS Chemistry & Zoology Texas Tech Univ.,1983; Ph.D. Physiology Texas Tech Med. Sch., 1989; Postdoctoral training: Univ. of Basel, Switzerland & Univ. of Toronto, Canada; RN-Kentucky 2011; BSN Univ. of KY, 2012.


             Go to LAB HOME PAGE for teaching and research information

Teaching page (GO TO); Current students (GO TO); Undergrad students (GO TO); Grad students (GO TO); PUBLICATIONS (GO TO); Lab page (GO TO); Research page (GO TO); Movie page (GO TO); High school student page (GO TO); Past students (GO TO); Topical studies-Neuroscience Major (GO TO); TriBeta page (GO TO); Ky-Physiology APS chapter (GO TO)

See UK NOW News about the NEW Kentucky Chapter of the American Physiological Society (APS).

 Synaptic Transmission and Neuromodulation

My primary research interest is to understand the detailed mechanisms of synaptic differentiation among neurons and those mechanisms employed between neurons and muscle cells. The nerve cell is chemically integrated with other cells at morphologically-identified locations called synapses. The characteristics of the synapse are affected by its activity level which modulates long-term alterations in both synaptic structure and performance. Neuromodulators that are endogenously released either enhance or suppress synaptic efficacy, in turn affecting the behavioral state of an animal. Neuromodulators affect cellular process by various intracellular messenger cascades that are dependent on the type of neuromodulator and its associated receptor. Such changes are believed to play a role in learning and memory, as well as in the behavioral state of an animal.


1. Funded July 2016.  Dec 16, 2015 submitted to The Research and Development Excellence Program is managed by the Kentucky Science and Engineering Foundation (KSEF) at the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation. Title: “The influence in the development of the central nervous system with limiting sensory gravitational input in a fast developing animal model.”  Proposed 1 year for 23K.

2. Start 01/01/15 End 06/30/16.  KY Council on Postsecondary Education. “STEM PRIDE: Partnering with Research & Industry to Develop STEM Educators” PI Carol D Hanley. Co-PI Robin Cooper UK. $149,939

3. 2014 to 2015.  Kentucky Department of Education. MUSE - modeling for understanding in science and engineering. Middle School. Proposal provides an opportunity to improve student learning in science and create exemplars of middle school multi-disciplinary units of study aligned to NGSS with integrated engineering core ideas focused on Global Climate and human health-related issues.$75,000  PI. is Kimberly Zeidler-Watters, Partnership Inst. for Math and Science. CO-PI Robin Cooper

4. Toyota PEP Grant with Fayette County Public Schools (FCPS) 2014- 2015. Title: “Fayette County Public Schools District Professional Development Plan.” Mr. David Helm, Science coordinator for  FCPS is the PI’s on the grant). $ 14,000.

5. January 2014 to June 2015. Kentucky Department of Education. MUSE - modeling for understanding in science and engineering. High School. Year 12 Improving Educator Quality.  $130,000.   

6. Renewed above grant for 3rd year. January 2015 to June 2016. PI. is Kimberly Zeidler-Watters, Partnership Inst. for Math and Science. CO-PI Robin Cooper.

7. 2013. Kentucky Department of Education. MUSE - modeling for understanding in science and engineering. Kentucky’s Mathematics and Science Partnership (MSP) 2013.  Kentucky Department of Education  $140,000 for year 1 (January, 2013 to September 30, 2013) and at $195,000 for the second year (October 1, 2013 to September 30, 2014), with a possible third year (at $97,500).  PI. is Kimberly Zeidler-Watters, Partnership Inst. for Math and Science. CO-PI Robin Cooper.

8. KY Department of Education.  Start 10/01/12 End 09/30/13. Science Leadership Support  Network - Central Region Year 3. # 3048109915. PI. is Kimberly Zeidler-Watters, Partnership Inst. for Math and Science. CO-PI Robin Cooper. Total $97,500.

9. KY Department of Education.  Start 10/01/12 End 09/30/13. Science Leadership Support Network – Eastern Region Year 3. # 3048109914. PI. is Kimberly Zeidler-Watters, Partnership Inst. for Math and Science. Only one CO-PI Robin Cooper. Total $97,500.

2007-2012. CHIEF EDITOR for  International Journal of Zoological Research

2013- present. A member of JoVE's Editorial Board in the Neurosciences. ( Please see the web page for more about this wonderful journal. Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE) is a peer reviewed, PubMed indexed journal devoted to the publication of biological, medical, chemical and physical research in a video format.

Recent publications:

( Or all on PubMed "MyBio" )

106. Wu, W.-H. and  Cooper, R.L. (2012) The regulation and packaging of synaptic vesicles as related to recruitment within glutamatergic synapses.  Neuroscience 225:185–198.

107. Wu, W.-H. and  Cooper, R.L. (2012) Role of serotonin in the regulation of synaptic transmission in invertebrate NMJs.  Experimental Neurobiology 21(3):101-112.

108. Holsinger, R.C., and Cooper, R.L. (2012). Effect of Environment and Modulators on Hindgut and Heart Function in Inverte­brates: Crustaceans and Drosophila. Tested Studies for Laboratory Teaching, Volume 33 (K. McMahon, Editor). Proceedings of the 33rd Conference of the Association for Biology Laboratory Education (ABLE), 366 pages.

109. Chung,Y-S. Cooper, R.M., Graff, J. and Cooper, R.L. (2012) The acute and chronic effect of low temperature on survival, heart rate and neural function in crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) and prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) species. Open Journal of Molecular and Integrative Physiology 2:75-86.

110. Bierbower, S.M., Shuranova, Z. P., Viele, K. and Cooper, R.L. (2013) Comparative study of environmental factors influencing motor task learning and memory retention in sighted and blind crayfish.  Brain and Behavior 3 (1) 4-13.

111. Becnel, J., Johnson, O., Majeed, Z.R., Tran, V., Yu, B., Roth, B.L., Cooper, R.L., Kerut, E.K., Nichols, C.D. (2013) DREADDs in Drosophila: A Pharmacogenetic Approach for Controlling Behavior, Neuronal Signaling, and Physiology in the Fly. Cell Reports 4(5):1049-59. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2013.08.003.

112. Wu, W.-H. and Cooper, R.L. (2013) Physiological separation of vesicle pools in low- and high-output nerve terminals. Neuroscience Research 75: 275–282. (5 yr impact factor 2.376). pubmed click  link

113. Bierbower, S.M. and Cooper, R.L. (2013) The mechanistic action of carbon dioxide on a neural circuit and NMJ communication. Journal of Experimental Zoology 319A:340–354.

114. Bierbower, S.M., Nadolski, J. and Cooper, R.L. (2013) Sensory systems and environmental change on behavior during social interactions. International Journal of Zoology. Vol: 2013, Article ID 573802, 16 pages

115. Titlow, J., Majeed, Z.R., Hartman, H.B., Burns, E., and Cooper, R.L. (2013) Neural Circuit Recording from an Intact Cockroach Nervous System. Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE). (81), e50584, doi:10.3791/50584 (2013).   Professional movie and peer reviewed manuscript.

116. Titlow, J., Majeed, Z.R., Nicholls, J.G. and Cooper, R.L. (2013) Identifiable neurons in the central nervous system of a leech via electrophysiology and morphology, sensory field maps in skin and synapse formation in culture: Student laboratory exercises. Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE).  (81), e50631, doi:10.3791/50631 Professional movie and peer reviewed manuscript.

117. Majeed, Z.R., Titlow, J., Hartman, H.B. and Cooper, R.L. (2013) Proprioception and tension receptors in crab limbs: Student laboratory exercises. Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE). (80), e51050, doi:10.3791/51050 Professional movie and peer reviewed manuscript.

118. Titlow, J.S., Rufer, J., King, K., and Cooper, R.L. (2013) Pharmacological analysis of dopamine modulation in the Drosophila melanogaster larval heart. Physiological Reports. 1 (2), 2013, e00020, doi:10.1002/phy2.20

119. Cooper, A.-S., Johnstone, A.F.M. and Cooper, R.L. (2013) Motor nerve terminal   morphology with unloading and reloading of muscle. Journal of Crustacean Biology.33(6): 818-827.

120. Majeed, Z.R., Nichols, C.D., and Cooper, R.L. (2013) 5-HT stimulation of heart rate in Drosophila does not act through cAMP as revealed by pharmacogenetics. Journal of Applied Physiology 15: 1656-1665, 5 yr impact factor 4.156.

121. deCastro, C., Titlow, J., Majeed, Z.R., and Cooper, R.L. (2014)  Examining the usefulness of various salines by physiological assays designed for larval Drosophila melanogaster: heart rate, synaptic transmission at neuromuscular junction and central circuits in the CNS. Journal of Comparative Physiology A. 200:83-92. Impact factor 1.856

122. Majeed, Z.R., Stacy, A., and Cooper, R.L. (2014) Pharmacological identification of serotonin receptor subtypes on Drosophila larval heart. Journal of Comparative Physiology B.184(2):205-219. Impact factor 2.024.

123. Titlow, J.S., Rice, J., Majeed, Z.R., Holsopple, E., Biecker, S., and Cooper, R.L. (2014) Anatomical and genotype-specific mechanosensory responses in Drosophila melanogaster larvae. Neuroscience Research 83:54-63. Impact factor 2.249

124. Titlow, J.S., Anderson H. and Cooper, R.L. (2014). Lights and Larvae: Using optogenetics to teach recombinant DNA and neurobiology. The Science Teacher 81 (#6): 2-9. Made issue Cover (photo)

125. Szczesniak, R., Viele, K. and Cooper, R.L. (2014). Mixtures of Self-Modeling Regressions. Journal of Biometrics and Biostatistics 5 (4):1-8. doi: 10.4172/2155-6180.1000208. Impact factor 1.12

126. Majeed, Z.R., Ritter, K., Robinson, J., Blümich, S.L.E., Brailoiu, E., and Cooper, R.L. (2015). New insights into the acute actions from a high dosage of fluoxetine on neuronal and cardiac function: Drosophila, crayfish and rodent models. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology- Part C 176–177:52–61 . 5 year impact factor 2.819

127. Jackson, J.R., Kirby, T.J., Fry, C.S., Cooper, R.L., McCarthy, J.J., Peterson, C.A., and Dupont-Versteegden, E.E. (2015). Reduced voluntary running performance is associated with impaired coordination as a result of muscle satellite cell depletion in adult mice. Skeletal Muscle 5:41, DOI 10.1186/s13395-015-0065-3.  Impact factor 5.14

128. Malloy, C., Ritter, K., Robinson, J., and Cooper, R.L. (2016). Pharmacological identification of cholinergic receptor subtypes on Drosophila melanogaster larval heart. Journal of Comparative Physiology - B 186 (1):45-57).  Impact factor 2.024.

129. Zhu,Y.-C., Yocum, E., Sifers, J., Uradu, H. and Cooper, R.L. (2016). Modulatory effects on Drosophila larva hearts in room temperature, acute and chronic cold stress. (In Press). Journal of Comparative Physiology - B. Impact factor 2.619.

130. Zhu,Y.-C., Uradu, H. Majeed, Z.R., and Cooper, R.L. (2016). Optogenetic drive of Drosophila heart rate at different temperatures and Ca2+ concentrations. Physiological Reports. 4(3):e12695 New part of American Physiological Society Press- no impact factor yet determined).

131.Thenappan, A., Dupont-Versteegden, E.E. and Cooper, R.L. (2016). An educational model for understanding acute deep tissue injury of motor units. (In Review).

132. Majeed, Z.R., Abdeljaber, E., Soveland, R., Cornwell, K., Bankemper, A., Koch, F. and Cooper, R.L. (2016). Modulatory action of serotonergic system in behavior and sensory-motor circuit physiology in Drosophila melanogaster. Neural Plasticity. Article ID 7291438, 23 pages  Impact Factor for 3.582 Journal Citation Reports released by Thomson Reuters (ISI) in 2014.

133. Potter, S., Krall, R.M., Mayo, S. Johnson, D., Zeidler-Watters, K., and Cooper, R.L. (2016). Population dynamics based on resource availability and founding effects: Live and computational models. The American Biology Teacher.
78(5): 396–403, ISSN 0002-7685, electronic ISSN 1938-4211

134. Krall, R.M., Johnson, D., Mayo, S., Zeidler-Watters, K., and Cooper, R.L. (2016). What should Cindy do?: Exploring cardiopulmonary systems through models. (In Manuscript).

135. Titlow, J.S., Rice, J. and Cooper, R.L. (2016). Dopaminergic modulation of motor behaviors in Drosophila larvae. (In Review).

136. Malloy, C., Robinson, J., Ritter, K., and Cooper, R.L. (2016) Modulatory action of cholinergic system in behavior and sensory-motor circuit physiology in Drosophila melanogaster. (In Manuscript, ½ written and presented at various meetings).

137. Titlow, J.S., Biecker, S. and Cooper, R.L. (2016). Mechanosensory habituation in Drosophila melanogaster larvae. (In Revision).
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