Rick Cooper earns doctorate


December 9, 2015

Rick and committee

From left are Drs. Changlu Wang, Mark Robson, Coby Schal, Richard Cooper and George Hamilton.

Richard Cooper of Cooper Pest Solutions and BedBug Central has successfully defended his doctoral research on bed bugs, receiving his degree from Rutgers University, Graduate School of New Brunswick, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Department of Entomology.

Dr. Cooper’s doctoral committee consisted of two international bed bug experts, Drs. Changlu Wang, Rutgers University and Coby Schal, North Carolina State University. Also on the committee were Rutgers’ Drs. George Hamilton and Mark Robson.

Earning the degree achieves a lifelong dream of Dr. Cooper. He returned to Rutgers in 2010 at age 46, the same university from where he received his master’s degree in 1991.

“We always wanted Rick to receive his doctorate,” notes brother and Cooper Pest Solutions CEO Phil Cooper. “The best part is that we were able to allow him to pursue his dream worry-free of his obligations at Cooper Pest. He has been on sabbatical from the company since 2010, and we are thrilled that he has completed the degree and will be ‘coming home.’”

Dr. Cooper’s dissertation was titled “Behavioral ecology and control of bed bugs, Cimex lectularius L., in multifamily housing communities.”

“Rick spent thousands of hours in the field and visited more than 1000 homes,” notes Dr. Wang, who headed the dissertation committee. “The challenges he faced were enormous. But he was determined to succeed. He published four papers before dissertation defense, all in prestigious journals.”

“Rick has conducted the most detailed spatial analysis of bed bug infestations, factoring in the size of the population, its age, resident behavior, and the type of eradication efforts that had been employed,” agrees Dr. Coby Schal. “Rick conducted an enormous study with passive traps and several carbon dioxide traps, as well as mark-recapture approaches, in dozens of infested homes. His results beautifully documented the demography of bed bug populations, the sex ratio at various sites within the home, and active dispersal of bed bugs within and between apartments. He smartly collected bed bugs, and ongoing DNA analysis (in collaboration with Dr. Warren Booth) will reveal patterns of genetic differentiation within and between these apartments. Again, this is by far the most thorough demographic study conducted to-date on bed bugs.”

While receiving his doctorate, Dr. Cooper has continued to be a mentor to Jeff White, director of innovation and technical content for BedBug Central. “Rick has given me every opportunity in my career to be the professional I am today,” White says.

Dr. Cooper is looking to continue his affiliation with Rutgers University and Dr. Wang’s lab as he integrates back to his full-time job at Cooper.

“We are looking forward to striking a balance that provides Cooper Pest and BedBug Central, while ensuring that he continues with his passion for research at Rutgers,” Phil Cooper says. :I expect it to be a win-win for our team, the team at Rutgers and the entire pest management industry.”


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