Focus on Faculty

Jamie Cooper

Jamie Cooper in front of Dawson Hall. (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

Jamie Cooper, an associate professor in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, says her ideal students are motivated, hard-working and have a strong desire to learn and challenge themselves. 

Where did you earn degrees and what are your current responsibilities at UGA?

I received my B.S. and M.S. degrees in kinesiology from Michigan State University and my Ph.D. in nutritional sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I am currently an associate professor and the graduate coordinator in the department of foods and nutrition in the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

When did you come to UGA and what brought you here?

I started here in 2015. When I came to interview, I was impressed by the quality of research being carried out at UGA, and it seemed like a very positive work environment. I also really liked Athens and the warm weather.

What are your favorite courses and why?

I teach several courses in sports nutrition and like all of them. It is fun to have students in my classes from several different disciplines, since my courses are generally electives and not required for our degree program. As a recreational athlete myself, I enjoy taking what I’ve learned “in the field” and applying it in the classroom setting.

What are some highlights of your career at UGA?

I have had some wonderful graduate and undergraduate student researchers in my lab, and I really enjoy working with each one of them on various research projects. It is really rewarding to see my Ph.D. students graduate after several years of hard work. As graduate coordinator, I also get the opportunity to interact with the graduate students in our program, so that has been a highlight for me.

How do you describe the scope and impact of your research or scholarship to people outside of your field?

We study how different nutrients or diets, especially dietary fats, affect human physiology—namely metabolism, appetite regulation and chronic disease risk. Since everyone eats, it is easy to talk to people in the general public about the research we do and how certain foods can help improve health in adults. We also study body weight regulation during vacations and the holiday season, so people are always interested in getting tips on how to enjoy those times without gaining weight.

How does your research or scholarship inspire your teaching, and vice versa?

My research is all centered around studying physiological responses in the body, so it is easy to translate that into my classes on sports nutrition. Students in my classes also ask some great questions, and discussions can lead to the development of new research ideas. Finally, since we occasionally do some supplement research on athletic performance, I am able to tie that into my sports nutrition classes.

Undergraduate Allison Jones stands in as graduate student Liana Rodrigues learns how to take the height and weight of a subject for clinical health measures with associate professor Jamie Cooper in her clinical lab in Dawson Hall. (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

What do you hope students gain from their classroom experience with you?

I hope they can look back at the end of the semester and say they learned a lot about nutrition and how it affects both health and athletic performance. I am passionate about my field, so I love to see students learn more about sports nutrition and be able to apply that knowledge in their future professions.

Describe your ideal student.

I want students who are motivated, hard working and have a strong desire to learn and challenge themselves.

Favorite place to be/thing to do on campus is…

Our campus is beautiful, so I like to take short breaks during the day and walk on campus. The UGA Trial Gardens is one of my favorite places to visit. I also love going to UGA football games.

Beyond the UGA campus, I like to…

… exercise. I’m an avid runner and triathlete. I also love watching sports (Go Dawgs!), reading and baking.

Community/civic involvement includes…

My Sunday school class likes to be involved in community outreach, so we have done some of that and are always looking for new opportunities to get involved and help out in our community.

Favorite book/movie (and why)?

My all-time favorite movie is “Major League.” My favorite book is the Bible. I also enjoy reading fiction (mysteries) and nonfiction books (athlete biographies or autobiographies).

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

I think I will remember so many things about UGA, but some of my favorite experiences are seeing my graduate students finish their degrees and publish their research findings and working with undergraduate students on CURO projects. I also really enjoy hearing from former students who have taken my class and email me to fill me in on their profession and how knowledge gained from my class is helping them.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I am fortunate to co-lead a study abroad program in foods and nutrition each year to different places in Europe. I thoroughly enjoy doing this because we get to interact with students so much more, and it’s really fun to see students experience different places and cultures, sometimes for the first time in their lives.

(Originally published Feb. 10, 2019)