As a civilian, he ran the water reuse program for the U.S. Army at Ft. Detrick and also helped pioneer the first annual Water Reuse Symposium in 1979. Additionally, he served as director of the Drinking Water Research Center at Florida International University and as a consultant to the International Atomic Energy Agency and several international cooperative research projects.
Cooper received his doctorate in marine and atmospheric chemistry from the University of Miami in 1987.
His major research interests are sunlight-mediated photochemical reactions in natural waters and free radical chemistry of aqueous solutions. Most recently, he has been involved in the application of ozonation for ballast water treatment at full-scale on oil tankers.