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.
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.
This class will cover research methods for observing, coding, and analyzing animal behavior. We will practice behavior sampling and recording techniques on both domestic animals at the farm and 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 either in the Hampshire woods or the Farm, and will be expected to consult the primary scientific literature to learn about their species. We will examine how to summarize, analyze, and present data. Students will work with spreadsheets and make graphs to present their data, as well as calculate inter-observer reliability scores. Papers and presentations will be due for each project.
Animals, Robots and Applied Design: This is a hands-on course in which students will create mechanical animal models based on their observations of live animal behaviors. Mechanical models of animals are used in both art and science. Students will learn animal observation techniques, design and fabrication skills, basic electronics and simple programming. This is a class for students with skills or interests in any of the following: electronics, robotics, animal behavior, programming, metal, wood or plastics fabrication. This will be a highly collaborative setting in which students will be responsible for sharing their own specialized skills. Students can expect introductory assignments to learn basic skills, followed by a term project. We will also examine work being done by scientists and artists who combine the study of animals with robotics and mechanical design.