Vaughn S. Cooper, PhD

Vaughn S. Cooper, PhD


425 Bridgeside Point 2
450 Technology Dr
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Ph: 412-624-1265

Fax: 412-624-8997


  • PhD in Zoology/Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Michigan State University, 2000
  • AB magna cum laude, Biology, Amherst College, 1994

Academic Affiliation

Professor, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics

Director, Center for Evolutionary Biology and Medicine

Associate Director, Center for Medicine and the Microbiome

Associate Director, Center for Innovative Antimicrobial Therapy

Member, Graduate Program in Microbiology and Immunology (PMI)

About Research

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?
  3. How does host immunity influence the evolution of antibiotic resistance?
  4. How does resistance to immunotherpy evolve?
  5. Why do genome regions replicated at different times evolve at different rates?
  6. Evolution is best taught by hands-on experimentation. How do we deliver this on a massive scale?

Selected Publications

Santos-Lopez A, Marshall CW, Scribner MR, Snyder D, Cooper VS. 2019. Evolutionary pathways to antibiotic resistance are dependent upon environmental structure and bacterial lifestyle. eLife 8: e47612 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.47612.

Cooper VS, Warren TM, Matela AM, Handwork M, Scarponi S. 2019. EvolvingSTEM: a microbial evolution-in-action curriculum that enhances learning of evolutionary biology and biotechnology. Evolution: Education and Outreach 12: 12.

Dillon MM, Sung W, Lynch M, Cooper VS. 2018. Periodic Variation of Mutation Rates in Bacterial Genomes Associated with Replication Timing. mBio 9: e01371-18.

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

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.

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