Nancy Kopell

Co-director, Center for BioDynamics; Professor, Mathematics, College of Engineering

Kopell received her B.A. from Cornell University in 1963 and her Ph.D. from Berkeley in 1967. She is currently William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor at Boston University, and co-director of the Center for Computational Neuroscience and Neural Technology (CompNet). She organized and directs the Cognitive Rhythms Collaborative (CRC), a group of over two dozen labs, mostly in the Boston Area, working on brain dyanmics and their cognitive implications.

Kopell’s Ph.D. training was in pure mathematics, but she transitioned to applied mathematics shortly after receiving her degree. In the first part of her career, she worked on pattern formation in chemical systems, oscillating systems and problems involving the geometry of systems with multiple time scales. For the last two decades, she has worked on mathematical problems in neuroscience. Her current interests parallel the themes of the CRC: how does the brain produce its dynamics (physiological mechanisms), how do brain rhythms take part in cognition (sensory processing, attention, memory, motor control), and how can pathologies of brain dynamics help to understand symptoms of neurological diseases (Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, epilepsy) as well as alternate states of consciousness (anesthesia). She collaborates widely with experimentalists and clinicians.

Kopell is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She was recently selected to be an honorary member of the London Mathematical Society, a distinction given to one or two mathematicians per year worldwide. She has been awarded Sloan Guggenheim, and McArthur Fellowships, and has an honory Ph.D. from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. She has given the Weldon Memorial Prize Lecture (Oxford), the von Neumann Lecture (SIAM) and the Josiah Willard Gibbs Lecture (AMS, as well as multiple other named lectureships.