Department of Biomedical Physiology & Kinesiology
Joined SFU in January 2017
Dr. Cooke’s innovative research program explores links between variation in brain organization and behaviour, response to injury, and the brain’s capacity to rewire itself. In laboratory experiments, variation between individuals has almost always been regarded as a complication to be minimized and thus, very little is known about individual variation in brain organization. Dr. Cooke aims to characterize and study the significance of this variation, determining how it affects skilled behaviour, resilience in the face of brain injury, and natural, adaptive changes in the brain.
What was your path to an academic career in science?
I had incredible science teachers in middle school who encouraged my curiosity by finding opportunities for me like running my own experiments on gravity. As a teenager I became interested in big questions like the origin of the universe and the biological basis of consciousness. In university I took a psychology course with Dr. Charles Gross, who is known for discovering individual neurons that specialize in detecting complex visual stimuli like hands and faces. I asked for a job in his lab and he gave me a project recording single neuron responses. From then on, I was hooked.