Vaughn Cooper, Ph.D.

Vaughn Cooper, Ph.D.

The University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine

Vaughn Cooper, Ph.D., is an evolutionary biologist and microbiologist. He received his bachelor’s degree from Amherst College and his Ph.D. in 2000 from Michigan State University under the mentorship of Richard Lenski. At MSU, Vaughn studied the evolution of specialization in the long-term evolution experiment of E. coli populations.

Cooper was a postdoctoral fellow of the Michigan Society of Fellows at the University of Michigan, studying pathogens of the cystic fibrosis airway with John LiPuma. Cooper was an assistant and associate professor at the University of New Hampshire from 2004-2015, moving to the University of Pittsburgh in 2015, where he is professor of microbiology and molecular genetics, and computational and systems biology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Cooper co-founded and is Director of the Center for Evolutionary Biology and Medicine (CEBaM) and founded and directs the Microbial Genomics Sequencing center (MiGS).

His awards include the 2010 Outstanding Assistant Professor at UNH and an NSF CAREER award. His research is supported by the NIH, NSF, NASA and by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Cooper has published more than 70 peer-reviewed publications and invited chapters, and currently is supported by 12 active grants or contracts. The Cooper laboratory studies how bacterial populations (e.g. Burkholderia, Pseudomonas, Acinetobacter and multispecies communities) evolve to adapt to new hosts and environments, particularly in biofilms. Other major interests include the evolution of antimicrobial resistance and why genome regions mutate/evolve at different rates. The laboratory also develops and promotes a laboratory curriculum called EvolvingSTEM, which enables high school students to learn key topics in evolution and heredity by conducting a week-long experiment with bacteria.