Radford native Laken Cooper always knew she wanted to stay close to home for her undergraduate experience. Radford University’s close-knit campus, small class sizes and opportunities to build connections with faculty members made her choice even easier.
“I love the community feeling that Radford has,” she said. “I feel like I’m part of something bigger, and I’m able to do a lot within my community where I was raised.
As an undergraduate student, Radford University has also provided Cooper with numerous undergraduate research opportunities that are normally reserved for graduate students at other institutions. This past summer, Cooper spent time in Kenya studying the spread of the invasive house sparrow.
“We conducted experiments at various locations including where the species was originally introduced and their range limits in Nairobi,” she said. “This research will allow us a snapshot into how this invasive species is able to spread throughout different environments and how they are able to adapt to changes. My experience was simply amazing and I am so fortunate to have been given funding from both the Summer Undergraduate Research Foundation and the Highlander In Action Scholar-Citizen Initiative.”
While a student, Cooper also spent time at the Selu Conservancy, a 380-acre outdoor classroom near campus that includes a science lab for fieldwork and an outdoor aviary. There, her research focused on the hormone systems of wild birds and how stress and reproduction affect how they explore new environments.
Cooper plans to pursue a master’s degree in behavioral ecology, a goal for which her already impressive academic experience has well prepared her.
“I really feel like Radford University has really prepared me for the next step in my life,” she said.