Cooper Laboratory

Our mission is to translate evolutionary biology to improve human health, reveal the origins of biodiversity and empower K-12 education!


We study the evolution, ecology, and genome dynamics of experimental and clincal microbial populations. The Following questions motivate our work:

1) How do microbes adaptively evolve when colonizing eukaryotic hosts, either as pathogens or symbionts? 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) Evolution is best taught by hands-on experimentation. How do we deliver this on a massive scale?

Origins of multicellularity

How different bacterial strains or species coexist and interact when bound together on a surface allows us to explore the origins of multicellular life. We are proud to be part of a NASA Astrobiology Institute that uses experimental evolution to pursue the goal: