Dr. Jason Davis

DavisJD2015

Associate Professor
Office: 172 Center for the Sciences
Lab: 166 Center for the Sciences
Box 6931, Radford University
Radford, VA 24142-6939, U.S.A.
Tel:(540) 831-6290
E-mail: jdavis319@radford.edu

Courses Taught:

  • BIOL 310/311 – Human Structure and Function
  • BIOL 322 – Anatomy & Physiology for Pre-Nursing Majors
  • BIOL 351 – Comparative Animal Physiology
  • BIOL 434 – Evolutionary Developmental Biology
  • BIOL 478 – Endocrinology
  • BIOL 460 – Senior Seminar (Species & the Species Concept; The Physiology of Human Modification; The Biology of Superheroes; The Biology of Death)
  • BIOL 481 – Radford Amazonian Research Expedition 
  • BIOL 489 – Darwin and Victorian Science
  • BIOL 491 – Independent Research
  • HNRS 310 – Special topics in Honors (Evolution the Board Game; Talking Controversy in Science)

About:

In general I’m interested in how physiological systems work to modulate how animals interact with a changing environment. More specifically, I’m interested in learning how different systems (hormones, neurotransmitters, behavior, immunity, etc.) help animals to cope with and prepare for major life challenges, like growth/development, reproduction and stressful situations.

Projects that students in my lab are currently working on include:

PASSER (Programmable Automated System for Songbird Ecobehavioral Research), a computerized interactive bird feeder/bird box that can interact with wild and captive birds both by recording data on its own over long periods of time and by presenting stimuli directly to the birds without direct human control. In collaboration with Dr. Sarah Foltz and Dr. Andrew Ray. Subprojects include:

  • Impacts of inclement weather on feeding behavior across species, sites and seasons (also with Dr. Tara Pelletier)
  • An interactive “scary feeder” that presents images to birds during feeding events and records their responses
  • Explorations of how information about feeder value and ease of access spread through social groups both in the wild and in captive populations of zebra finches
  • Development and construction of a “smart box” for monitoring the parental behavior and feeding profiles of wild kestrels (in collaboration with the Brandywine Zoo)

Invertebrate Endocrinology Research

  • Exploring how major royal jelly proteins and other hormones interact to modulate growth, behavior and immune function in hissing cockroaches
  • Studies of the impact of hormonal modulation on size and behavioral syndromes in tarantulas and scorpions
  • Investigation of how VAAM (Vespa Amino Acid Mixture) modulates mitochondrial function across generations in wild type and mutant (mitochondrially defective) drosophila

Outreach

  • The Roach Roadshow; a travelling infotainment program that brings real science to the public in a fun (hopefully!) and accessible (also hopefully!) format. www.radfordsroachroadshow.org
  • Automating Ethology Dance Project, a collaboration with Professor Amy Van Kirk exploring how modern dance can integrate and build on computer augmented data collection.

Some of my past research I’ve done has explored: sex-related differences in hormonal patterns in parenting bluebirds, interaction of stimuli traits, sex differences and stress state on neophobia in songbirds, hormones controlling sociality in spiders, differences in neuroendocrinology and receptor dynamics in native and invasive songbirds in Tibet, variation in hormone receptor patterns in expanding populations of songbirds in the Pacific Northwest, and species variation in natural fear and stress responses in old world monkeys. In my lab we use a wide range of techniques to study and experimentally manipulate physiology, including ELISA hormone assays, automated behavioral tracking systems, immunohistological assays, and neurohormonal modulation. We also spend a lot of time in the field catching birds in big nets and a lot of time in the lab working with bugs in tanks.

I am also a part of the RARE (Radford Amazonian Research Expedition) program and the Associate Director of Radford’s Honors College.

If you think you might be interested in learning more about the research projects in my lab please feel free to email me!