Vaughn S Cooper, PhD

Associate Professor

Dr. Vaughn Cooper


Fax: 412-624-1401

425 Bridgeside Point 2

450 Technology Drive

Pittsburgh, PA 15219


PhD in Zoology/Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Michigan State University, 2000

AB magna cum laude, Biology, Amherst College, 1994

Research Summary

The mission of the Cooper laboratory is to translate evolutionary biology to improve human health, empower K-12 education, and reveal the origins of biodiversity. Specifically, we study the evolution, ecology, and genome dynamics of experimental and clinical microbial populations. The following questions motivate our work.

  1. How do microbes adaptively evolve when colonizing eukaryotic hosts or exposed to antimicrobial compounds? Can we predict these dynamics and identify driver mechanisms to guide therapy?
  2. How do bacteria evolve and form communities within biofilms, especially within infections? What does this teach us about nascent multicellularity?
  3. How and why do ecological tradeoffs evolve?
  4. Why do genome regions replicated at different times evolve at different rates?
  5. Evolution is best taught by hands-on experimentation. How do we deliver this on a massive scale?

Click here for a full listing of publications

Research Lab Affiliation


Dillon MM, Sung W, Sebra R, Lynch M, Cooper VS. 2016. Genome-wide biases in the rate and molecular spectrum of spontaneous mutations in Vibrio cholerae and Vibrio fischeri. Mol Biol Evol. 34: 93-109. |  View Abstract

Silva, IN, Santos PM, Santos MR, Zlosnik JEA, Speert DP, Buskirk SW, Bruger EL, Waters CM, Cooper VS, LM Moreira. 2016. Long-Term Evolution of Burkholderia multivorans During a Chronic Cystic Fibrosis Infection Reveals Shifting Forces of Selection. mSystems. 1: pii: e00029-16. |  View Abstract

Traverse CC, Mayo-Smith LM, Poltak SR and Cooper VS. 2013. Tangled bank of experimentally evolved Burkholderia biofilms reflects selection during chronic infections. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 110: E250-E259. |  View Abstract

Poltak SR and Cooper VS. 2011. Ecological succession in long-term experimentally evolved biofilms produces synergistic communities. ISME J. 5: 369-378. |  View Abstract

Cooper VS, Vohr SH, Wrocklage SC and Hatcher PJ. 2010. Why genes evolve faster on secondary chromosomes in bacteria. PLoS Comput Biol. 6: e1000732. |  View Abstract