Discovery Park Undergraduate Research Internship Program

"Lighting environment preferences of laboratory rats"

About the Project

Project Time & Type:
Summer 2016 - DURI
Research area(s):
Animal Behavior and Animal Welfare
Project Description:
Rodent facilities have traditionally used red light (e.g. bulbs or window coverings) and tinted shelters to reduce light contamination and intensity. Current literature is challenging the previously perceived wisdom, that red light does not alter rat circadian rhythm, with results of altered behavior and circadian rhythms of insulin, leptin, and glucose when exposed to red light during the dark photoperiod. This suggests that rodent photoreceptors may react to red wavelengths. These alterations to behavior and physiology may be especially important in diabetic models, where hormonal fluctuations are crucial to the disease. In our preliminary work, rats spend more time in red vs amber portions of a cage. However, due to the concurrent decrease in light intensity with red caging, we cannot determine whether this preference is for the spectral environment from red caging or low lux levels. These results warrant further investigation since lower intensity lighting may reduce stress and anxiety, further altering behavior and physiology. The goal of the project is to determine if rat preference is for the spectral environment red caging provides or for low light intensity.
Expected Student Contributions:
He/She will help collect data while this study runs over the summer, learn to code video-recorded rat behavior, and work directly with the animals. The student will also help with collating data and potentially help with data analysis.
Related Website(s):
Desired Qualifications:
Prior experience with behavioral coding is preferred but not required. Attention to detail, conscientiousness, motivation, and dedication are more important. Other skills may include: previous experience with laboratory animals or pet rodents, data entry, database management, or other research experience
Estimated Weekly Hours:
Department awards independent research credits for this project?

Professor in Charge

Gaskill, Brianna
comparative pathobiology

Student Supervisor

Brianna Gaskill
Assistant Professor, Animal Welfare

Cooperating Faculty

Deb Hickman
Laboratory Animal Resources, IU School of Medicine
Michael E Boulton