Rory Cooper Appointed Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research

A man in a light blue shirt leans on a machineInventor and assistive technology researcher Rory Cooper has been appointed the University of Pittsburgh’s first-ever assistant vice chancellor for research for STEM-health sciences collaborations.

In this role, which begins Jan. 1, 2021, Cooper will provide intellectual leadership to help connect the STEM and health science areas and draw on Pitt’s strengths in these fields. He will also participate in the University Research Council and work to develop institutional-level funding to support research.

“We created this post because Pitt offers an incredible diversity of modes of research and creative endeavors, and corresponding ranges of research and creative products,” said Rob A. Rutenbar, senior vice chancellor for research at Pitt. “Our office seeks to promote and engage with faculty working across all of our knowledge domains. Creating this position helps us to expand opportunities for research at the intersections of STEM and the health sciences.”

Rutenbar added that Cooper is “ideally suited” for this new role.

“His track record in partnerships and interdisciplinary collaborations in these areas is exemplary,” he said.

Cooper is FISA & Paralyzed Veterans of America Professor and Distinguished Professor of Pitt’s Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, as well as professor of bioengineering, physical medicine and rehabilitation and orthopaedic surgery. Additionally, he is the founding director and VA Senior Research Career Scientist of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL).

Cooper has authored or co-authored more than 375 peer-reviewed journal publications, has 30 patents awarded or pending of advanced mobility devices, robotics and assistive technologies. These include a wheelchair powered by compressed air, a robotic arm extension to help wheelchair users grab items and a specialized computer mouse for people with prosthetic arms.

He is also an elected fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and several other professional societies.

Cooper said sees his new appointment as “an opportunity to build new collaborative efforts and to help colleagues conduct more team research of high impact by working collectively.”

“I’m excited to be joining the Pitt Research team and to grow STEM-health sciences collaboration to meet the potential of our faculty, staff and students,” he said.

Cooper’s position complements the appointment last year of Shelome Gooden as Pitt’s assistant vice chancellor for research for the humanities, arts, social sciences and related fields.