Todd Cooke

Research Professor and Professor Emeritus



Office Phone: (301) 405-5435

Office Address: 3117 Microbiology Building 

research interests

  • Biophysical and biochemical mechanisms controlling the structure, development, and evolution of land plants
  • Fundamental principles of organismal form
  • Active engagement pedagogy and multidisciplinary reasoning in introductory biology courses

representative publications

Cooke, T.J., and Lu, B. 1992. The independence of cell shape and overall form in multicellular algae and land plants:  Cells do not act as building blocks for constructing plant organs.  International Journal of Plant Science 153:S7-S27.


Cooke, T.J., Tilney, M.S., and Tilney, L.G. 1996.  Plasmodesmata in apical meristems and mature structures: Geometric evidence for both primary and secondary formation of plasmodesmata.  In: Membranes: Specialized Functions in Plants, M. Smallwood, J.P. Knox, and D.J. Bowles, eds. pp. 471-488. BIOS Scientific Publishers: Oxford.


Kaplan, D.R., and Cooke, T.J.  1997. Fundamental concepts in the embryogenesis of dicotyledonous angiosperms: A morphological interpretation of embryo mutants. Plant Cell 11:1903-1919.


Cooke, T.J., Poli, DB., Sztein, A.E., and Cohen, J.D. 2002. Evolutionary patterns in auxin action. Plant Molecular Biology. 49: 319-338.

Poli, DB., Jacobs, M., and Cooke, T.J. 2003. Auxin regulation of axial growth in bryophyte sporophytes: Its potential significance for the evolution of early land plants. American Journal of Botany 90: 1405-1415.


Cooke, T.J., Poli, DB., and Cohen, J.D. 2004. Did auxin play a crucial role in the evolution of novel body plans during the late Silurian-early Devonian radiation of land plants? In: The Evolution of Plant Physiology: From Whole Plants to Ecosystems, A.M. Hemsley and I. Poole, eds., pp. 85-107. Academic Press: London.


Cooke, T.J. 2006.  Do Fibonacci numbers reveal the involvement of geometrical imperatives or biological interactions in phyllotaxis?  Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 150: 3-24.


Watkins, J.E., Coffey, J.E., Redish, E.F., and Cooke, T.J. 2012. Disciplinary authenticity: Enriching the reform of introductory physics courses for life science students. Physical Review Special Topics – Physics Education Research. 8, 010112. (


Banavar J.R., Cooke, T. J., Rinaldo, A., and Maritan, A. 2014. Form, function, and evolution of living organisms. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 111: 3332-3337


Jardine, H.E., Levin, D.M., Quimby, B.B., and Cooke, T.J. 2017. Group active engagement (GAE) exercises: Pursuing the recommendations of Vision and Change in an introductory undergraduate science course. Journal of College Science Teaching 46(5): 20-25.


teaching intersts

  • PBIO 225/BSCI 225 Introductory Plant Biology - structure, function, evolution, and human uses of plants
  • BSCI 207/HLSC 207 Introductory Biology III: Organismal Biology - fundamental principles governing the function and evolution of all organisms
  • HONR 239F Plants and Empires: Historical Issues and Contemporary Consequences - scientific, economic, and cultural perspectives characterizing plant-human interactions from the origins of agriculture to modern times.


  • Guggenheim Fellowship, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, 1995-1996
  • Lilly Endowment Fellowship, Center for Teaching Excellence, UMD, 2007-2008
  • Teaching and Curriculum Development Excellence Award, College of Chemical and Life Sciences, UMD, 2008
  • Education Fellow in the Life Sciences, National Academies, United States, 2009-2010
  • Creative Educator Award, Board of Visitors, College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences, UMD, 2012
  • Outstanding Faculty Award, Honors College, UMD, 2013
  • Philip Merrill Presidential Scholar - Faculty Mentor Award, UMD, 2014, 2020
  • Donna B. Hamilton Outstanding Teaching Award, College of Undergraduate Studies, UMD, 2016
  • Sigma Circle Award, Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society, Office of the Vice-President for Student Affairs, UMD, 2020
  • William E. and Patricia H. Kirwan Undergraduate Education Award, President’s Office, UMD, 2020


Ph.D. Cornell University, 1979