Alan Cooper

Professor Alan Cooper

Director - Australian Centre for Ancient DNA

School of Biological Sciences

Faculty of Sciences

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.


Ancient DNA researcher specialising in: human evolution, climate change, megafaunal extinctions, evolution of the human microbiome, molecular clocks, genomics, extinct species, mammal and avian evolution, bioinformatics

Prof. Alan Cooper has played a central role in the development of the field of ancient DNA, starting with his PhD research in Allan Wilson’s UC Berkeley laboratory with Svante Paabo in 1989. He completed his PhD at Victoria University of Wellington, NZ in 1994, and moved to the Smithsonian Institution for a postdoc. In 1995 he moved to the University of Oxford, where he created the Henry Wellcome Ancient Biomolecules Centre with a £1.2M Welcome Trust Joint Infrastructure Award in 1999. He was made Professor of Ancient Biomolecules in 2001. In 2005 he moved to the University of Adelaide where he established the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD) as an Australian Research Council Federation Fellow (2005-2010). He has since been an ARC Future Fellow (2011-2014) and is now an ARC Laureate Fellow (2015-2019). In 2016 he was named the South Australian Scientist of the Year.

He currently leads the Aboriginal Heritage Project in collaboration with the South Australian Museum and Aboriginal Families and Communities around Australia, which is creating the first detailed map of Aboriginal Australia, allowing people of Aboriginal descent to trace their heritage back beyond recent records, particularly assisting members of the Stolen Generation. This project was awarded a Eureka Award in 2017, and the South Australian Science Excellence Award for Scientific Collaboration in 2018.

Prof. Cooper’s research interests include the use of ancient genetic data and analytical approaches to study key evolutionary processes – including genomic responses to past climate and environmental changes, extinction events, human evolution and migration, molecular evolution, microbiomes and disease – across a broad range of time and space. His multi-disciplinary focus integrates data from genomics, bioinformatics, zoology, archaeology, microbiology, forensics, palaeontology, physical dating methods, and climate records and he has led many large international multi-author studies which have resulted in major advances and high profile publications (28 in Science and Nature). He has published over 270 peer reviewed papers which have been cited over 23,000 times. His h-index is 77 (Google Scholar).

 

Prof. Cooper has held a large number of Australian and International Research Grants, and while at Adelaide has been awarded over $15M in ARC funding for Discovery, Linkage and Fellowships. Since arriving in Adelaide he has continuously held ARC Fellowships (Federation, Future and Laureate), as well as 6 Discovery Projects, 9 Linkage Grants, and multiple LIEF grants. 

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  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2018 Co-Supervisor Health, History and Ethics: A Multidisciplinary Study of Modern and Historical Microbial Communities in Indigenous Australians Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Matilda Handsley-Davis
    2018 Principal Supervisor Improving ancient DNA analytical techniques using novel computational methods and machine learning Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Adrien Oliva
    2018 Principal Supervisor Reconstructing the Population Genetic History of Sahul Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Gludhug Ariyo Purnomo
    2017 Principal Supervisor Bioinformatics for Ancient DNA Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Graham Gower
    2017 Co-Supervisor Low Biomass Microbiome Research in Health Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Caitlin Alyssa Selway
    2017 Principal Supervisor Paleo Population Genetic History of Australia and the Near East Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Matthew Williams
    2016 Co-Supervisor Human Oral Microbiome Analysis Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Emily Jean Skelly
    2016 Principal Supervisor Ancient DNA of Brown Bears Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Alexander Theodore Salis
    2016 Co-Supervisor Role of Epigenetic Modification and Niobium Evolution in Boind Adaption to Environmental Change Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Yichen Liu
    2015 Co-Supervisor Genomic and Metagenomic Alterations and Impacts on Disease through time using Ancient DNA Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Muslihudeen Abdul-Razaq Abdul-Aziz
    2015 Principal Supervisor Cereal Domestication and the Evolution of grasses Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Oscar Andres Estrada Santamaria
    2015 Principal Supervisor Evolution of North American Bison Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Lindsey Erin Fenderson
    2014 Principal Supervisor Genomic evolution of pathogenic oral microbial in homo sapiens using DNA samples from ancient and modern dental Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Luis Arriola
  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2015 - 2018 Principal Supervisor The 'next generation’ of ancient DNA research: a series of methods and approaches to improve our understanding of the evolutionary history of species in general, and European bison in particular Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Ayla Lore Van Loenen
    2015 - 2018 Co-Supervisor New and Refined Tools and Guidelines to Expand the Scope and Improve the Reproducibility of Palaeomicrobiological Research Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Raphael Alexandre Eisenhofer Philipona
    2014 - 2016 Principal Supervisor Ancient DNA of New Zealand's extinct avifauna: Using next-generation sequencing (NGS) to research the paleoecology of the megaherbivore moa (Aves: Dinornithiformes) and the phylogenetics of the enigmatic gruiform Aptornis (Aves: Aptornithidae) Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Mr Alexander Peter Boast
    2013 - 2017 Principal Supervisor Ancient DNA Studies of Dental Calculus Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Andrew Graham Farrer
    2013 - 2015 Principal Supervisor Methodological Challenges To Study The Nuclear Evolutionary History Of An Ancient Bison Species Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Oliver Lomax-James Wooley
    2013 - 2017 Principal Supervisor Climate-Driven Ecological Changes Through the Last Glacial Period: Innovations in Plant Ancient DNA and Stable Isotope Palaeoecology Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Tim Rabanus-Wallace
    2012 - 2015 Principal Supervisor Metagenomic amplicon sequencing as a rapid and high-throughput tool for aquatic biodiversity surveys Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Jennifer Shaw
    2012 - 2015 Co-Supervisor Antarctic biodiversity surveys using high-throughput-sequencing: understanding landscape and communities of the Prince Charles Mountains Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Paul Czechowski
    2012 - 2015 Principal Supervisor Using high-throughput DNA sequencing and molecular phylogenies to investigate the evolution and biogeography of the southern hemisphere fauna Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Kieren James Mitchell
    2012 - 2015 Co-Supervisor Genetic studies on prehistoric translocations of chickens in the Indo-Pacific Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Michael James Herrera
    2011 - 2016 Co-Supervisor Ancient DNA from pre-Columbian South America Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Guido Marcelo Valverde Garnica
    2011 - 2014 Principal Supervisor Application of DNA metabarcoding and high-throughput sequencing for enhanced forensic soil DNA analysis Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Jennifer Young
    2009 - 2012 Principal Supervisor What (molecular) time is it? Using ancient DNA to date Evolutionary Events Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Julien Soubrier
    2009 - 2009 Other Amino acid racemization geochronology - contributions to the understanding of Quaternaty sea-level changes, neotectonics and coastal evolution Doctor of Science Higher Doctorate Full Time Prof Colin Murray-Wallace
    2009 - 2015 Principal Supervisor Investigation and Application of Methods for Ancient DNA Research Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Steve Richards
    2008 - 2011 Principal Supervisor Mitochondrial DNA in Ancient Human Populations of Europe Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Clio Dersarkissian
    2008 - 2012 Principal Supervisor Ancient DNA Studies of Human Evolution Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Christina Adler
    2007 - 2012 Principal Supervisor Ancient DNA in the Australian Context: Investigating Evolutionary and Ecological Responses to Environmental Change Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Vicki Ann Thomson
    2007 - 2011 Co-Supervisor The origin and characterisation of new nuclear genes originating from a cytoplasmic organellar genome Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Andrew Henry Mark Lloyd
    2007 - 2010 Co-Supervisor Improved Techniques for the Characterisation of Soil Organic Phosphorus Using 31P Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy and Their Application to Australian Soils Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Ashlea Doolette
    2006 - 2010 Principal Supervisor Palaeoecology & population demographics of the extinct New Zealand moa (Aves: Dinornithiformes) Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Nicolas Rawlence
    2006 - 2011 Co-Supervisor Mitochondrial DNA Analysis of the Evolution and Genetic Diversity of Ancient and Extinct Bears Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Sarah Bray
    2005 - 2008 Principal Supervisor Tertiary Fossil Waterfowl (Aves: Anseriformes) of Australia and New Zealand Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Trevor Worthy
  • Position: Director - Australian Centre for Ancient DNA
  • Phone: 83135950
  • Email: alan.cooper@adelaide.edu.au
  • Fax: 8313 4364
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Darling, floor 2
  • Room: 2 09b
  • Org Unit: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

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