Assistant Professor, School of Medicine,
University of California, Los Angeles
Jefferson Community College, Ohio
Playing high school football sent Virgil Cooper to the emergency room on many occasions. While he did not suffer any broken bones or serious injury, the hospital setting and X-ray images used for diagnosis fascinated him.
On an academic scholarship at Jefferson Community College, in Ohio, to study radiation technology, Virgil fell in love with physics and has worked ever since towards advancing the field of medical physics. He graduated at the top of his class at Jefferson, then went to earn a bachelor's from The Ohio State University, a master's from the University of Cincinnati, and his doctorate from Johns Hopkins University.
Virgil's driving goal as a research scientist is to extend the field of medical imaging to improve breast cancer detection, because early detection is so important in treating the disease. Making his work even more poignant, Virgil's mother was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after he had decided to make this his primary focus. He describes her illness the most meaningful, personal motivation behind his ongoing work.