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2017 Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor – Matthew Cooper

Congratulations to Matthew Cooper, one of seven recipients of the 2017 Undergraduate Faculty Research Mentor of the Year Award! He took the top honor in the Social Sciences division within the College of Arts & Sciences. Cooper is an associate professor in the Psychology Department whose lab aims to “improve understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms underlying stress-related psychopathologies.”

Cooper’s students praise all facets of his laboratory and the leadership he provides there. One student, Elena Bagatelas, writes, “Dr. Cooper is very attentive to his undergraduate students in his research lab and is eager to give them responsibilities in the lab, encouraging a great hands-on learning environment. He teaches us how to understand research articles through interactive talks at our lab meetings, and allows us to present them as practice so we can learn how to interpret and explain articles.” Kimberly Bress praises the lab community as the “most important aspect of Dr. Cooper’s mentorship,” including everything from lecture and guidance to the supportive atmosphere he creates through his graduate student assistants.

Bress, who has taken Cooper’s courses for five semesters, goes on to describe how “last year, he made it possible for me and another undergraduate student to attend the Society for Neuroscience Conference in San Diego, California.  This experience is the most academically and professionally significant opportunity which I have had as an undergraduate.  It has defined and inspired my continued interest in pursuing a research career.”

Matthew Cooper received a bachelor’s degree in animal behavior from Bucknell University, and a PhD in psychology from the University of Georgia. He is a past recipient of UTK’s Scholar of the Week award and has been awarded grants from the National Institute of Health and National Science Foundation, among others. For more on his lab, visit