Stress Physiology and Field Endocrinology
Graduate Research Area: Neurobiology and Animal Behavior
Prof. Romero's research interests focus on the vertebrate stress response. Ever since the mid-1950s, the concept of stress has consumed the attention of scientists and the public alike. We know that stress has a multitude of bad effects, and consequently an enormous amount of effort has gone into attempts to reduce stress. But even after nearly fifty years of study, we still have little knowledge of the factors that produce stress. We do know, however, that in certain circumstances stress is actually beneficial, especially when the stressful stimulus is a predator or a storm facing a wild animal. Research in Dr. Romero's laboratory is aimed at increasing our understanding of the reasons for, and the mechanisms underlying, stress in wild animals.
Our research takes an integrative approach. The nature of our studies often necessitates that we work in several different fields simultaneously (i.e., neuroscience and ecology), an uncommon approach for studying stress. Approximately a third of our work is done in the field, for in order to obtain a clearer picture of how stress affects a wild animal, we must be able to understand how that animal fits into its environment. Since studies of mechanisms are difficult to conduct in the field, most of our detailed mechanistic studies must be performed in the lab. Prof. Romero's research thus consists of intimately intertwined laboratory and field studies in the areas of physiology, ecology, and neuroscience, all with the goal of increasing our comprehension of the causes and effects of stress.
For more information see Romero Lab Pages.