Sara Turner Cooper

Assistant Professor

Zurn 217

(814) 824-3089

Dr. Turner's research lies in the broad area of conservation and evolutionary genetics, but she is particularly interested in understanding the genetics and microevolutionary adaptations of wild populations of vertebrate animals. She has worked on a variety of projects and collaborated with researchers in many different fields. In all, Sara uses molecular markers and statistical genetic methods that allow her to provide quantitative answers to such ecological and evolutionary questions as: 1) identification of population of origin, 2) the relationships between individuals in population, 3) genetic factors that may influence an individual’s fitness, and 4) how the populations adapt in response to a changing environment. 


Bachelor’s Institution and degree: B.A. Biology Pomona College

Doctorate Institution and degree: Ph.D. Forestry and Natural Resources (Wildlife Genetics)  Purdue University 


List of Courses taught in past 5 years:

  • BIO 146/147: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology of Organisms
  • BIO 142/143: Cell and Molecular Biology
  • BIO 310/311: Genetics
  • BIO 374: Evolution
  • BIO 198/199: Tropical Marine Biology
  • BIO 448: Populations Genetics
  • BIO 208: Cancer: Biology and Beyond
  • FSAT 300: Darwin and the Galapagos


Brief Research Description: 

My current research lies in the broad area of conservation, disease and evolutionary genetics.  In all, I use molecular markers, including DNA fragments and sequences, that allow me to provide quantitative answers to such questions as: 1) detection and prevalence of microorganisms in the environment and 2) the relationships between individuals in different populations. Since arriving at Mercyhurst University I have tried to establish a research program that is directly relevant to our students, and our surrounding community.