Lisa Noelle Cooper, Ph.D.

Phone: 330.325.6310
Email: lcooper@neomed.edu

Room: C-156

Google Scholar


  • Associate Professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology
  • Graduate Faculty, NEOMED
  • Graduate Faculty, Biomedical Sciences Program, Kent State University
  • Director, Musculoskeletal Research Focus Area


Lisa received her undergraduate training in Biology at Montana State University in 1999. After time away from school, she went on to graduate school as a Master’s student in the Department of Evolutionary Biology at San Diego State University. In 2009 she completed her doctoral degree focusing on the evolution and development of dolphin forelimbs from NEOMED and Kent State University. In 2010 she worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Illinois and joined the faculty of NEOMED in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology.

She then focused on the evolutionary and molecular underpinnings supporting the unique skeletons of bats and whales. Her work on bats and whales includes studies of gene expression, matrix composition, and their biomechanical consequences. She studies their skeletons from an aging perspective as bats and whales have exceptionally long lives and her research shows they modify gene cell activity to prevent age-related declines in their skeletal system.

Area of Expertise/Research Interests

The Cooper Lab’s research program seeks insights into the interrelationships between molecular signaling and their effects on bone structure and performance within mammals. We explore the molecular and structural basis of the bones of mammals that occupy the seas and skies including bats and whales. These data in form us how mammals modified the skeleton to fly and swim, and also inform us as to the evolutionary origins of unique skeletal attributes associated with life in a fluid habitat.


  • Bachelor of Science, Biology, Montana State University, 1999
  • Master of Science, Evolutionary Biology, San Diego State University, 2004
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Cellular and Molecular Biology, Kent State University, 2009


  • Integrative Musculoskeletal Biology (IMSB)
  • Human Architecture (HAC)
  • Cardio, Pulmonary, Renal (CPR)
  • GI, Repro, Endocrine (GRE)

Academic & Professional Activities

  • NEOMED, Seminar Series Organizer, Musculoskeletal Biology Research Focus Group
  • NEOMED, Member, Committee on Academic and Professional Progress (CAPP)


  • 2018 Junior Faculty Award
  • National Science Foundation, Collaborative Research: Mechanobiology of a Resilient Bone Extracellular Matrix: A Multiscale Perspective on How Bats Achieve Exceptional Mechanical Properties in their Wing Bones. Engineering, Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation


  • 2021, Keynote Address, Secondary Adaptations of Aquatic Tetrapods
  • 2020, Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology
  • 2019, North American Society for Bat Research
  • 2019, International Bat Research Conference
  • 2019, International Congress on Vertebrate Morphology


Cooper LNC, and Gorbunova V. 2021. Molecular biology of the bowhead whale. In J.C. George & JGM. Thewissen (Eds.), The bowhead whale Balaena mysticetus: Biology and human interactions (1st Ed., p. 516). Cambridge: Academic Press

Wilkinson GS, Adams DM, Haghani A, Lu AT, Zoller J, Breeze CE, Arnold BD, Ball HC, Carter G, Cooper LN, Dechmann DKN, Devanna P, Fasel NJ, Galazyuk AV, Günther L, Hurme E, Jones G , Knörnschild M, Lattenkamp EZ, Li CZ, Mayer F, Reinhardt JA, Medellin RA, Nagy M, Pope B, Power ML, Ransome RD, Teeling EC, Vernes SC, Zamora-Mejías D, Zhang J, Faure PA, Greville LJ, Horvath S. 2021. DNA methylation predicts age and provides insight into exceptional longevity of bats. Nature

Cooper LNC, Ball HC, Vinyard CJ, Safadi FF, George JC, and Thewissen JGM. 2020. Linking gene expression and phenotypic changes in the developmental and evolutionary origins of osteosclerosis in the ribs of bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus). Journal of Experimental Zoology Part B: Molecular and Developmental Evolution.

Cooper, L.N., Sears K.E., Armfield B.A., Kala B., Hubler M., Thewissen J. G.M. in press. Review and experimental evaluation of the embryonic development and evolutionary history of flipper development and hyperphalangy in dolphins (Cetacea: Mammalia). Genesis: The Journal of Genetics and Development

Ball HC, Moussa FM, Mimba T, Orman R., Safadi FF, Cooper LN. 2016. Methods and insights from the characterization of osteoprogenitor cells of bats (Mammalia: Chiroptera). Stem Cell Research 17(1): 54-61.