Associate Professor of Animal Behavior
Her research interests are in the areas of animal social behavior and communication. She is particularly interested in multisensory signaling: how and why animals (including humans) combine signals from multiple sensory channels during communication.
She has studied these and related questions in observational studies of wild African elephants; rhesus macaques; squirrels and lizards; and in controlled laboratory studies of birds and dolphins.
Partan is currently creating mechanized animals that simulate animal displays to use in field playback experiments that combine the rigor of laboratory experiments with the natural setting of the field environment.
In this course we will study research methods for observing, coding, and analyzing animal behavior. We will practice behavior sampling and recording techniques both with domestic animals at the farm and with wild animals in the campus woods. Behaviors observed will include social behavior, foraging, and communication behavior. Students will carry out independent team projects on a species at the Hampshire Farm or woods, and will be expected to consult the primary scientific literature to learn about their species and topics. We will examine how to summarize, analyze, and present data. Students will work with spreadsheets and make graphs to present their data as well calculate inter-observer reliability scores. Papers and presentations will be due for each project. Key words: animal behavior, biology, methods
Full Title: Environments and Change: Addressing Climate Change in a Changing Social, Political, and Environmental World Main Question: What are the ongoing and growing concerns associated with climate change and how can we take meaningful, positive action to address them? Course Description: The challenge of creating a just and sustainable future in the face of climate change is arguably the greatest challenge yet to face humankind. Why haven't we as individuals or governments or societies begun to act as if our very lives and cultures are threatened by climate change? Countries across the world were able to enact rapid and massive behavioral change when faced with COVID19, but have failed to do so when faced with climate change. What are the implications of environmental and climate change in relationship to privilege, accessibility, and race? How does one live a sustainable life in an ever-changing world? Join us to brainstorm potential solutions to current local and global environmental and related social problems. This seminar will be co-taught by an interdisciplinary team of faculty and staff and will include guest lectures from experts across a breadth of areas related to climate change, environmental justice, and sustainability. The course will be divided into modules focused on specific problems and potential solutions, such as why humans are so resistant to changing our habits, and how massive societal change can be motivated; how we can learn to communicate around hard topics and differing beliefs; how ecopoetics and ecocriticism can engage not only climate justice but racial justice as well; how applied design can help us create accessible tools; and how other animals are responding to climate change and biodiversity loss. Modes of working will include brainstorming, hands-on design and fabrication work (#making), reading, researching, communication, dialogue, and restorative practices. Approaches: #sustainabledesign #environmentaljustice #creativewriting #biodiversityconservation
The goal of this class is to build a long-term database of animal diversity on Hampshire property. Our environment, both local and global, is dramatically changing, and it is of utmost importance to document biodiversity now before we lose species we may not have realized were here. Students in this exploratory class will work together to learn to identify and document our local fauna. We will spend a good deal of time exploring our woods to learn together about what is there. We will add our observational data to our own citizen science database project in iNaturalist, and will learn how to summarize, analyze, and make use of the data. We will also examine how long-term databases are used by other research groups, and explore other citizen science research projects. No experience necessary, however students with experience or interest in natural history, animal identification, and computer databases are particularly encouraged to join the class.
The goal of this course is to develop a community of researchers/writers in the field of animal behavior. Together we will read proposals and drafts of the students in the group, along with related academic literature in their areas of study. Discussions will cover methodological issues of study design along with conceptual issues underlying the research questions, informed by the scientific literature. Reading material will include drafts of Div III theses (or 5-college senior theses) of students in the course, and drafts of proposals from Div II students (or 5-college juniors focusing in animal behavior). Students will present their work to their peers for group reviews, and will practice critiquing others' work and developing skills in cross-peer mentoring.