- FISA & Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) Chair and Distinguished Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, University of Pittsburgh
- VA Career Scientist and Director, Human Engineering Research Laboratories http://www.herl.pitt.edu (HERL), VA Center of Excellence in Wheelchairs and Associated Rehabilitation Engineering
- Professor (Secondary Appointment), Departments of Bioengineering, Mechanical Engineering, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Pittsburgh
- PhD, Electrical and Computer Engineering (Biomedical Engineering, and Signals & Systems), University of California, Santa Barbara, 1989
- MS, Electrical Engineering (Computer Control Systems), California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, 1986
- BS, Electrical Engineering (Signals and Systems), California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, 1985
- Rehabilitation engineering
- Robotics and intelligent systems
- Quality of Life Technology
- Wheelchairs and Assistive Devices
- Souza A, Pearlman J, Cooper RM, Kelleher A, Gebrosky B, Cooper RA, Evaluation of scooters using ANSI/RESNA standards, Journal of Rhabilitation Research and Development, Vol. 50, No. 7, pp. 1017-1034, 2013.
- Hiremath SV, Ding D, Cooper RA, Development and Evaluation of a Gyroscope-based Wheel Rotation Monitor for Manual Wheelchair Users, Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine (ISSN: 1079-0268), Volume 36, No. 4, pp. 347-356(10); July 2013.
- Wang HW, Candiotti J, Shino M, Chung C, Grindle G, Ding D, Cooper RA, Development of an Advanced Mobile Base for Personal Mobility and Manipulation Appliance Generation II Robotic Wheelchair, The Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine, (ISSN: 1079-0268); Volume 36, No. 4, pp. 333-346(14); July 2013.
- Sindall P, Lenton JP, Whytock K, Tolfrey K, Oyster ML, Cooper RA, Goosey-Tolfrey VL, Criterion validity and accuracy of global positioning satelite and data logging devices for wheelchair tennis courts movement, The Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine, Vol. 36, No. 4, pp. 383-394, 2013.
- Chung CS, Wang H, Cooper RA, Literature Review: Functional Assessment and Performance Evaluation For Assistive Robotic Manipulators, The Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine, Vol. 36, No. 4, pp. 273-289, 2013.
- Hiremath S, Ding D, Farringdon J, Cooper RA, Physical Activity Classification Utilizing SenseWear Activity Monitor in Manual Wheelchair Users with Spinal Cord Injury, Spinal Cord, doi:10.1038/sc.2013.39, 21 May, 2013.
- Garcia-Mendez Y, Pearlman JL, Boninger ML, Cooper RA, Health risks of vibration exposure to wheelchair users in the community. The Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine, (ISSN: 1079-0268); Volume 36, Nor. 4, pp. 365-375(11); July 2013.
- Mahajan H, Dicianno BE, Cooper RA, Ding D, The Assessment of Wheelchair Driving Performance in a Virtual Reality based Simulator, The Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine, (ISSN: 1079-0268); Volume 36, No. 4 pp. 322-332(11); July 2013.
- Pearlman J, Cooper RA, Duvall J, Livingston R, Pedestrian Pathway Characteristics and Their Implications on Wheelchair Users, Assistive Technology, Vol. 25, No. 4, pp. 230-239, DOI:10.1080/10400435.2013.778915, 2013.
- Toro-Hernandez M, Koontz A, Cooper RA, The Impact of Transfer Setup on the Performance of Independent Wheelchair Transfers, Human Factors, pp. 567-580, Vol. 55, No. 3, June, 2013.
- Kamaraj D, Dicianno B, Cooper RA, Hunt J, Tang J, Acute Mountain Sickness in athletes with neurological impairments, Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, pp. 253-262, Vol. 50, No. 2, 2013.
- Sindall P, Lenton, JP, Tolfrey K, Cooper RA, Goosey-Tolfrey V, Wheelchair tennis match-play demands: effect of player rank and result, International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, Vol 8, No. 1, pp. 28-37, 2013.
- Souza A, Kelleher A, Cooper R, Cooper RA, Iezzoni LI, Collins DM, Multiple Sclerosis and Mobility-Related Assistive Technology: A Systematic Review of the Literature, Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, Vol. 47, No. 3, pp. 213-224, 2010.
- Koontz AM, Brindle ED, Kankipati P, Feathers D, Cooper RA, Design Features that Impact the Maneuverability of Wheelchairs and Scooters, Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Vol. 91, No. 5, pp. 759-764, 2010.
- Pyo J, Pasquina PF, DeMarco M, Wallach R, Teodorski E, Cooper RA, Upper Limb Nerve Entrapment Syndromes in Veterans with Lower Limb Amputations, PM&R Journal, Vol. 2, No. pp. 14-22, 2010.
- Ding D, Liu HY, Cooper RM, Cooper RA, Smailagic A, Siewiorek D, Virtual Coach Technology for Supporting Self-Care, Clinics in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Vol. 21, No. 1, pp. , 2010.
- Gagnon D, Koontz AM, Brindle E, Boninger ML, Cooper RA, Does Upper Limb Muscular Demand Differ Between Preferred and Non-Preferred Sitting Pivot Transfer Directions in Individuals With Spinal Cord Injury?, Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, Vol. 46, No. 9, pp. 1099-1108, 2009.
- Yang Y, Koontz AM, Triolo R, Cooper RA, Boninger ML, Biomechanical Analysis of Functional Electrical Stimulation on Trunk Musculature During Wheelchair Propulsion, Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, pp. 717-725, Vol. 23, No. 7, September 2009.
- Wang H, Salatin B, Grindle GG, Ding D, Cooper RA, Real-Time Model-Based Electric Powered Wheelchair Control, Medical Engineering and Physics, Vol. 31, No. 10, pp. 1244-1254, December, 2009.
- Karmarkar AM, Collins DM, Wichman T, Franklin A, Fitzgerald SG, Dicianno BE, Pasquina PF, Cooper RA, Prostheses and Wheelchairs Use in Veterans with Lower Limb Amputation (LLA), Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, Vol. 46, No.5, pp. 567-576, 2009.
- Cooper RA, SMARTWheel: From Concept to Clinical Practice, Prosthetics and Orthotics International, Vol. 33, No. 3, pp, 198-209, 2009.
- Cooper RA, Wheeled Mobility and Manipulation Technologies, The Bridge, Vol. 39, No. 1, pp. 13-20, 2009.
Courses Recently Taught
- HRS 3708 Integrated Controls
- HRS 2709 Wheelchairs I
- HRS 1704 Rehabilitation Manufacturing and Materials
Rory A. Cooper, Ph.D. received the B.S. and M.Eng degrees in electrical engineering from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in 1985 and 1986, respectively. He received the Ph.D. degree in electrical and computer engineering with a concentration in bioengineering from University of California at Santa Barbara in 1989. He is FISA & Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) Chair and Distinguished Professor of the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, and professor of Bioengineering, Mechanical Engineering, Physical Medicine & Rehab, and Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Cooper is Founding Director and VA Senior Research Career Scientist of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories a VA Rehabilitation Research and Development Center of Excellence in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh. He is also the Co-Director of the NSF Quality of Life Technology Engineering Research Center, a joint effort between the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.
He is the Editor of the AT Research Book Series of IOS Press and past editor of the journal Assistive Technology. Dr. Cooper has authored or co-authored over 275 peer-reviewed journal publications. He has over ten patents awarded or pending. Dr. Cooper is the author of two books: "Rehabilitation Engineering Applied to Mobility and Manipulation” and “Wheelchair Selection and Configuration”, and co-editor of “An Introduction to Rehabilitation Engineering”, "Warrior Transition Leader: Medical Rehabilitation Handbook", and the awars winning book “Care of the Combat Amputee”. Dr. Cooper is an elected Fellow of the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), and the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES). Dr. Cooper has been an invited lecturer at many institutions around the world, for example the National Academies of Sciences Distinctive Voices Lecture, and was awarded Honorary Professor at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Xi’an Jiatong University. He has also been elected to Eta Kappa Nu, Tau Beta Pi, and Sigma Xi honorary societies.
Dr. Cooper is a former President of RESNA, and a member of the RESNA/ANSI and ISO Wheelchair Standards Committees, and IEEE-EMBS Medical Device Standards Committee. In 1988, he was a bronze medalist in the Paralympic Games, Seoul, Republic of Korea. He was on the steering committee for the 1996 Paralympic Scientific Congress held in Atlanta, GA, and the Sports Scientist for the 2008 U.S. Paralympic Team in Beijing, China. In 2013, Dr. Cooper was awarded the Paralympic Scientific Achievement Award. He has been a member of the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services - Medicare Advisory Committee, U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Prosthetics & Special Disability Programs Advisory Committee, Chair of the National Advisory Board on Medical Rehabilitation Research, National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, U.S. Department of Defense Health Board Subcommittee on Amputation and Orthopedics, and National Academy of Sciences Keck Foundation Initiative on Human Health Span Steering Committee. Dr. Cooper has actively collaborated with the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre on increasing access to quality services and devices for people with disabilities in India and throughout developing countries. Dr. Cooper is a U.S. Army veteran with a spinal cord injury and a Director of the Paralyzed Veterans of America Research Foundation. He currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Easter Seals, Command Council, Staff Sergeant Donnie D. Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Community Services, Chair of the USAID/WHO Evidence Practice in Wheelchair Service Delivery Committee, Steering Committee of the Academy of PM&R on Research Capacity Building, and other national committeess/boards. Dr. Cooper's highest awards include the International Paralympic Committee Sports Science Award, American Association for the Advancement of Science Mentor Award, U.S. Army Distinguished Civilian Service Medal. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Diversity and Inclusion Excellence Award, Olin E. Teague Award, Paul Magnuson Award, Cliff Crase Award, Pennsylvania Military and Veteran Hall of Fame, Order of Military Medical Merit, Pennsylvania Meritorious Service Medal (1OLC), Chancellor's Award for Public Service, Chapel of Four Chaplains Legion of Honor, Boy Scouts of America Community Cornerstone Award, U.S. Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal (1OLC), James Peters Award, Maxwell J. Schleifer Award, DaVinci Lifetime Achievement Award, Veteran's Leadership Program Veteran of the Year, RESNA Distinguished Service Award (x2), and a member of the inaugural class of the Spinal Cord Injury Hall of Fame. Dr. Cooper was recognized in the Congressional Record of the United States Congress on Monday, July 27, 2009 for his contributions to people with disabilities and personal example. In 2009, Dr. Cooper was featured on a Cheerios cereal box for his many achievements, and in August 2010, he with one of his robots was the centerfold in Popular Science for his work in robotics to aid people with disabilities and older adults. Dr. Cooper also shared his story and provided insights to best-selling author, Mary Ann McFadden, during the writing of her novel "The Book Lover". Dr. Cooper was selected by the Gen. James Amos, Commandant of the United States Marine Corps as the Guest of Honor for the "Evening Parade" hosted on 3 August 2012 by Michael P. Barrett, the 17th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corp. Further, Dr. Cooper's students have been the recipients of over 50 national and international awards.
Major Awards and Honors
- Paralympic Sports Science Award, International Paralympic Committee: For seminal contributions to science in support of the Paralympic Movement.
- Secretaries Award for Diversity and Inclusion, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: For promoting and making significant contributions to the employment of Veterans and other people with disabilities.
- Evening Parade Guest of Honor, Michael P. Barrett, 17th Sergeant Major of the United States Marine Corps: For enduring support and invaluable commitment to Marines and their Families.
- Featured Innovator, "Investor's Eye - The Evolution of Adaptation", United States Patent and Trademark Office: For innovations in adaptive technology and engineering for mobility, particularly with regards to the Paralympic games. October, 2012 - Disability Awareness Month.
- Mentor Award, American Association for the Advancement of Science: For his dedication and successful efforts to increase the number of women and persons with disabilities within Ph.D.'s in Rehabilitation Science.
- Distinguished Civilian Service Award, U.S. Army: For extraordinary contributions to the United States Army. for 20 years, Dr. Cooper has been an inspirational leader in the care and rehabilitation of Soldiers with spinal cord injuries and traumatic amputations. As the Army led the development of the Armed Forces Amputee Patient Care Program, he mentored, partnered with and supported Army clinicians, scientists and senior leaders in planning and carrying out tremendous improvements in the care of wounded warriers. Dr. Cooper's outstanding accomplishments are in keeping with the highest traditions of public service and are a great credit to him, the University of Pittsburgh and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
- Cliff Crase Award for Professionalism from Paralyzed Veterans of America: For exemplary and high impact contributions to public service and leadership to benefit people with disabilities.
- Hall of Fame, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: Recognizing unique and exemplary contributions to the Department and to the Pennsylvania National Guard. This award not only recognizes your significant achievements, but also the honor and prestige that you have brought upon the Department, the Pennsylvania National Guard and its members. Election to the Hall of Fame is the highest honor bestowed by the Department.
- Chancellor's Award for Distinguished Public Service: For exemplary and high impact contributions to public service that have had a positive impact on the community and Universityi beyond the expectations of faculty members.
- Order of Military Medical Merit, Membership: For significant exemplary contribution to the United States Army Medical Department through dedicated application of talent, effort and spirit.
- The Pennsylvania Meritorious Service Medal, The Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: For meritorious service while holding a position of great responsibility. For seminal contributions to the physical rehabilitation of war-injured Service Members through his work on "Care of the Combat Amputee" and his assistance to the Armed Forces Amputee Patient Care Program.
- The Future of Robots: 10 Most Promising Senior Friendly 'bots, Popular Science: Personal Mobility and Manipulation Appliance (PerMMA) featured in "Rise of the Helpful Machines", Popular Science, Vol 277, No. 2, pp. 46-51 2010. "The world's most sophisticated robots don't assemble trucks or cruise around Mars. They're designed to support our surging population of elderly and citizens."
- Community Cornerstone Award, Boy Scouts of America: BSA keenly recognizes the importance of volunteer community leadership and recognized 14 individuals who made significant differences in the quality of life of the people of southwestern Pennsylvania. The reason for 14 "Community Cornerstones" is to compliment the Boy Scouts of America's 14 original founders and board members on the 100th Anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America.
- Congressional Record, Monday, July 27, 2009 - Recognition of Dr. Rory Cooper: To honor Rory A. Cooper, PhD as truly an inspiration to all of us and commending him for his outstanding achievements as a veteran, athlete, scientist, and advocate for people with disabilities.
- Maxwell J. Schleifer Distinguished Service Award, Exceptional Parent Magazine: For long-tme dedication and accomplishment on behalf of Americans with disabilities and the special needs community.
- National Spinal Cord Injury Association (NSCIA) "Hall of Fame": For significant contributions to quality of life and advancements toward a better future for all individuals with spinal cord injury.
- James J. Perers Lecture Award (2005), American Paraplegia Society: For demonstrated outstanding contributions to the lives of individuals with spinal cord injuries through research, development, education and advocacy.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Rehabilitation Research and Development Service, Paul B. Magnuson Award: For pioneering work in coalescing contemporary knowledge across multiple disciplines and for selfless dedication to building careers of young scientists within the VA Healthcare System.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Olin E. teague Award: For outstanding achievement in the rehabilitation of war-injured veterans.
- Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Fellow: For outstanding contributions to improving quality and increasing innovation in wheelchair design, and for leadership in rehabilitation engineering education.
- American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) Fellow: For outstanding contributions to medical and biological engineering.
- Distinguished Alumni Speaker, California Polytechnic State University, Department of Electrical Engineering Spring Banquet (2010): For serving as one of the world's foremost authorities on wheelchair design, and for innovation and leadership in engineer and education.
- Outstanding Researcher Award, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System (2010): For outstanding commitment to excellence in research to improve Veteran’s lives.
Community Cornerstone Award, Boy Scouts of America (2010): BSA keenly recognizes the importance of volunteer community leadership and recognized 14 individuals who made significant differences in the quality of life of the people of southwestern Pennsylvania. The reason for 14 "Community Cornerstones" is to compliment the Boy Scouts of America's 14 original founders and board members on the 100th Anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America.
Flag of the United States of America Flown over Walter Reed Army Medical Center and accompanying Certificate of Appreciation (2009): For continued support of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and for your unwavering dedication to improving the quality of life of individuals with disabilities, particularly our military veterans.
Veteran of the Year, Veterans Leadership Program (2009)
For exceptional leadership, service, and advocacy for veterans and military causes.
Community Hero Award, United Cerebral Palsy of Allegheny County (2009)
For enhancing the quality of life of people in our community through increased awareness of issues confronting people with disabilities and bringing about meaningful change in the community.
TRCIL Senator John Heinz Memorial Award, Three Rivers Center for Independent Living (2009)
For increasing opportunities for people with disabilities for equal access in the community in the areas of transportation, employment, housing, and recreation.
United States Congressional Record, Monday, July 27, 2009 – Recognition of Dr. Rory Cooper (2009) To honor Rory A. Cooper, PhD as truly an inspiration to all of us and commending him for his outstanding achievements as a veteran, athlete, scientist, and advocate for people with disabilities.
Outstanding Civilian Service Medal, Headquarters, Medical Command, Dept. of the Army (2009)
For exceptional leadership, service, and advocacy for severely injured service members from October 2004 through May 2008. Dr. Cooper placed WRAMC at the forefront of translating research into clinical practice, which led to improved medical rehabilitation outcomes for service members.
Military Veteran Wheelchair Athlete featured on “Cheerios” Cereal Box (2009)
For athletic achievement and significant contributions to promoting full participation by people with disabilities.