Janice Cooke, PhD

Professor, Faculty of Science - Biological Sciences

Pronouns: she/her/hers


Professor, Faculty of Science - Biological Sciences
(780) 492-0412
5-108 Centennial Ctr For Interdisciplinary SCS II
11335 Saskatchewan Drive NW
Edmonton AB
T6G 2H5


Area of Study / Keywords

Forest Trees Genomics Molecular Biology Physiology Dormancy Defense


Janice Cooke received her BSc (Honours, Co-op) from the University of Victoria. After spending a couple of years working in industry, she returned to school, completing her PhD at the University of Alberta. She went on to complete postdoctoral fellow appointments at the University of Florida and Universit√© Laval before joining the University of Alberta in 2005.  She is passionate about trees. Her main interests lie in understanding molecular mechanisms that underpin how forest trees respond to environmental cues. Dr. Cooke serves as Editor-in-Chief for Tree Physiology (Oxford University Press), and is Deputy Coordinator for Division 2 of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO).  Dr. Cooke has been recognized with the CD Nelson Award (Canadian Society of Plant Biologists), a McCalla Professorship and a Killam Annual Professorship (University of Alberta).


The Cooke Lab investigates how forest trees respond to biotic (e.g. pest and pathogen) and abiotic (e.g. temperature, daylength, nitrogen and water) cues in their environment. Plants can't simply move away to a new location when faced with environmental stressors, so they have evolved elegant mechanisms to contend with these forces. The goal of Janice Cooke's research programme is to identify genes and processes that shape these responses, integrating across scales of biological organization from the molecular to whole plant and ultimately to the landscape level.  To achieve these goals, the Cooke Lab has collaborated with a number of talented researchers in other disciplines, participating in a number of large-scale genomics research initiatives. 

For a number of years, the Cooke Lab has focused on coniferous species like pines and spruces, although we have also worked on poplars and aspen. Most of our projects have focused on forest tree responses to insect pests and fungal pathogens, and seasonally-associated developmental and physiological processes (phenology). We are presently working on four projects:

Genetic and environmental factors that affect lodgepole and jack pine responses to attack by mountain pine beetle and their fungal symbionts

Molecular modes of quantitative resistance of lodgepole and jack pine to the fungus that causes western gall rust

Factors affecting needle toughness in white spruce, influencing susceptibility to herbivory by spruce budworm

Molecular processes involved in white spruce bud set, dormancy and overwintering


Janice Cooke has been the instructor for a number of courses focused on plants, including BOT 205 (Fundamentals of Plant Biology), BOT 340/540 (Plant Physiology), BOT 445/545 (Molecular Plant Physiology), BOT 464/564 (Plant Functional Genomics), and BOT 600 (Seminar in Plant Biology).


BOT 205 - Fundamentals of Plant Biology

An overview of the diversity and biology of organisms traditionally included in the Plant Kingdom (algae, fungi, lichens, mosses, ferns, gymnosperms and flowering plants). Emphasis throughout the course is on the relationship between structural and functional innovations in plants and how these have influenced their reproduction and evolution in various ecosystems. Symbioses and co-evolutionary relationships between or among different kinds of plants, and with other groups of organisms, are also considered. Prerequisite: BIOL 108 or SCI 100. Credit cannot be obtained for both BOT 205 and PL SC 221.

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