Did you ever wonder what the melanin-concentrating hormone receptor (MCH) has to do with appetite? Well, so does Laurie Cook. She's an associate professor in The College at Brockport Department of Biology. Since she joined the faculty in 2005, her lab has been focused on cell signaling in relation to appetite. It's another example of the fascinating and important research being conducted right here at the College.
Cook says the goal of the research is to identify a new molecular target that could be utilized as an appetite suppressant. Studies have shown the receptor may affect the body in a number of ways.
"It's been implicated in irritable bowel syndrome," says Cook. "It's also been implicated in sleep-wake cycles, mood, controlling metabolism and in helping to control your urge to eat."
Cook always knew she wanted to teach. Early on, she aspired to be a chemistry teacher. That changed when she took a biochemistry course at the University at Albany, where she would go on to earn a biology degree. She eventually earned her masters and doctorate at the University of Rochester. Cook chose Brockport as her professional home due to her passion for both teaching and research.
"Brockport was really unique in that decision-making process," she says. "Now that I'm here, I can't imagine being anywhere else. There's no other place like Brockport. It's this perfect mixture of interacting with students in the classroom and interacting with students in the lab."
Cook's students are conducting a variety of experiments in the lab pertaining to the MCH receptor. Since she joined the College, she says over 90 percent of her students have ended up either with a job or in a graduate program immediately upon graduation. Cook marvels at how the students evolve from having little or no lab experience.
"The students who have come out of my lab have been very successful, and that's a huge motivating factor for me," she says.
The Department of Biology is one of nine departments in the Brockport School of Science and Mathematics. It offers a major and a minor in biology as well as a major in medical technology. Students majoring in biology have the opportunity to pursue an honors component, which includes performing research with a faculty mentor. The department also offers a "3+2" program, which allows students to earn a bachelor's and master's degree in five years.
Please consider making a gift today.