A VA Pittsburgh senior research scientist recently received the University of Pittsburgh's 2011 Chancellor's Distinguished Public Service Award.
Rory A. Cooper is the founding director of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories, which seek to improve the mobility and function of people with disabilities through advanced engineering in clinical research and medical rehabilitation. One of these laboratories — Wheelchairs and Associated Rehabilitation Engineering — is a VA national research center of excellence.
Cooper, who is also a Veteran, has dedicated his career to helping former service members with spinal cord injuries live to their fullest potential.
Cooper's academic accomplishments in this arena "have been unparalleled…as evidenced by distinguished academic appointments, by nine issued or pending patents and by receipt of countless honors," said Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg, who recognized the researcher at the University's 35th annual Honors Convocation in February.
As part of the award, Cooper received a $3,000 grant to support his public service activities. He will use the money to help Veterans with severe disabilities successfully transition into college studies in science, technology, engineering and math.
"It is a tremendous honor to be recognized by one's colleagues, and the larger community, for work that I love to do and that my team has embraced," Cooper said. "The award is affirmation of the importance of working to promote quality of life for Veterans and others with disabilities."