Vaughn Cooper

Professor, Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics

Education & Training

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

AB magna cum laude, Biology, Amherst College


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.

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?

How do bacteria evolve and form communities within biofilms, especially within infections? 

How does host immunity influence the evolution of antibiotic resistance?  

How does resistance to immunotherapy evolve?

Why do genome regions replicated at different times evolve at different rates?

Evolution is best taught by hands-on experimentation. How do we deliver this on a massive scale?