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 climate change, 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, Australian Aboriginal Heritage and Australian evolution, the impacts of climate change and humans on the extinction of megafauna, and the evolution of human microbiomes in response to changes in diet and culture - and the impacts on health.
2018 South Australian Science Excellence Award, 2017 Eureka Award for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Research, 2016/2017 South Australian Scientist of the Year; Verco Medal, Royal Society of South Australia 2013; ARC Federation Fellowship 2005-2010; ARC Future Fellowship 2011-2014: ARC Laureate Fellowship 2015-2019