Prof. Cooper specialises in using ancient DNA to record and study evolutionary processes in real time, especially those associated with environmental change, human impact, domestication and disease.
His work ranges over timescales of hundreds of years old (eg museum specimens) to material hundreds of thousands of years old, such as permafrost-preserved bones of animals and bacteria.
His research is characterised by multi-disciplinary approaches involving the combination of information from areas such as geology, archaeology, microbiology, and anthropology to provide novel views of evolution, population genetics and palaeoecology.
Recent research highlights include the study of early human movements around the world using ancient genomics, the evolution of human microbiomes in responses to changes in diet and culture - and the impacts on health, and the impacts of climate change and humans on the megafaunal extinctions at the end of the Ice Ages.
Verco Medal, Royal Society of South Australia 2013; ARC Federation Fellowship 2005-2010; ARC Future Fellowship 2011-2014: ARC Laureate Fellowship 2015-2019