Samantha Larimer Bousquet

Associate Professor of Biology

(319) 352-8675

(319) 352-8606

samantha.larimer@wartburg.edu

More about Samantha Larimer Bousquet

B.A., Earlham College
Ph.D., Cornell University (New York)

Current Research/Areas of Interest
I’m interested in how an animal’s behavior is influenced by its current environment and/or the environment in which it was raised, variables that are often ignored in laboratory experiments. I’m also interested in how physiological variables that are often ignored, such as hormones, influence behaviors. Although my research is now primarily confined to the lab, prior to Wartburg, I engaged with these same types of questions in the wild, ranging from hamsters in southern Turkey to herpetofauna on 3 different Caribbean islands. My two main current threads of research are further described below.

The role of environmental enrichment: Environments that are rich in social interactions, novel objects to interact with, and exercise opportunities can influence both stress levels and future ability to learn, especially when individuals are exposed at a young age. Applications of these findings range from design of early childhood intervention programs, to better understandings of depression, to discovery of more effective therapies to assist in stroke recovery. Using mouse models, students have investigated the interactions between these variables to determine how stress and learning may interact to cause the results seen.

The interaction between hormones and pheromones: Pheromones are often used for communication in sexual and aggressive contexts, and thus it seems as though “sex hormones” (androgens, estrogens, and progesterone) should influence both production and detection of these signals. However, much is still not known concerning their interactions. Student experiments on this topic range from purely behavioral experiments (taking advantage of natural variations over the estrous cycle or with age), to manipulation of hormonal levels (via hormone shots after castration or ovariectomy), to examination of brain activity (by staining brain slices for immediate early genes).

Other: Most semesters roughly half of the student research projects I advise do not address either of my two main research agendas described above. Feel free to propose ideas of interest related to my overarching goals instead.

Mail address
Biology Department
Wartburg College
100 Wartburg Blvd.
Waverly, Iowa, USA 50677

Courses Taught
NSC 135 Biology of the Mind
BI 152 Biology II: Phylogeny, Structure, & Function
BI 325 Behavioral Ecology
NSC 335 Neurobiology
BI/NSC 455 Methods of Biological Research
BI/NSC 456 Science Seminar

Advising Expertise
Neuroscience, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy