Netta Cohen

Professor of Complex Systems
School of Computing
University of Leeds

School of Computing, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK
phone: +44 (0)113 343-6789; fax: +44 (0)113 343-5468, N.Cohen at



October 2015: Engineering Grand Challenge project announced: "Balancing the impact of City Infrastructure Engineering on Natural systems using Robots"

I lead the Applied Computing in Biology, Medicine and Health Research Theme.

My research is interdisciplineary, falling also under two other Themes: Aritificial Intelligence and Computational Science and Engineering.

Current teaching: Numerical Computation, Interdisciplinary Research Project, Research Project.
Past courses taught Biological and Bioinspired Computing I (undergraduate), Biological and Bioinspired Computing II (MSc), Algorithms II

    We are always happy to receive enquiries from prosepctive PhD and postdoctoral candidates, both local and international. If you have a strong background and an interest in our group, please contact me directly. Past and current group members have come from diverse backgrounds including computer science, physics, mathematics, electronic engineering, mechanical engineering, bioinformatics and molecular genetics.

    The Faculty of Engineering has received a prestigious Athena SWAN Silver Award from the Equality Challenge Unit, the national body that promotes equality in the higher education sector. The Silver Award is given in recognition of the strong and continued commitment to gender equality in the Faculty and represents the combined efforts of all five schools in the Faculty. It has been awarded only two and a half years after achieving the first stage Bronze award.

    PhD in Neural Control of Behaviour

    The C. elegans Neuroscience Laboratory, headed by Prof. Netta Cohen, is looking for a talented PhD student, interested in working in the field of systems or computational neuroscience, addressing questions of neural control of behaviour. Students from either theoretical or experimental background are invited to apply. The ideal candidate will either have a strong mathematical, physical, computer science or engineering background, and a keen interest in biological and neural systems, or a biological background with a primary interest in neural computation, excellent laboratory and quantitative skills, and a keen interest in working closely with computational modellers. Demonstrated programming skills are a plus in either case.
    How do neural circuits orchestrate behaviour? What is the neural basis of decision making? How are the organisation and dynamics of neural circuits shaped by the animal's embodiment and the physics of the environment? These fascinating topics lie at the heart of systems and computational neuroscience, and yet we are only beginning to understand them. Not surprisingly, some of the most exciting progress has come from studies of relatively simple animals. We address these questions in a worm -- C. elegans, a fully functioning animal with a tiny nervous system (302 neurons). As the only animal whose neural circuitry has been completely mapped, C. elegans provides a unique opportunity to study the neural basis of behavior.

    PhD in Bioinspired Control for Soft Robots

    We are looking for a talented PhD student to join an exciting new project to develop robotic technologies for real world applications. The University of Leeds has been awarded a substantial EPSRC grant to explore the use of robots and autonomous systems in city infrastructure. This 5-year project commenced on 4 January 2016. The team is formed of a consortium of the Universities of Leeds (lead), Birmingham, UCL and Southampton. The Cohen and Cohn groups are collaborating on the design and implementation of biological control algorithms in soft and hybrid (soft-hard) robots.
    The ideal candidate will have a strong computer science or control engineering background, with a keen interest in understanding neural control and other biological inspiration for adaptive control and soft body mechanics. Topics may span the design and testing of algorithms for navigation and task performance of individual robots in physically realistic 3D simulation environments; implementation and testing of selected algorithms in physical prototypes and realistic environments; the design and test algorithms for collaborative, centralised or distributed task performance in physically realistic simulation environments, etc.

Group members:
  • Elpiniki Kalogeropoulou: PhD student in neural control of behaviour in C. elegans

  • Robert Thomas: PhD student in gravitropic regulation of plant growth (with Stefan Kepinski, Biological Sciences)

  • Christopher Brittin: PhD student in neural control of behaviour in c. elegans

  • Robert Holbrook: Research Fellow

  • Thomas Ranner: Research Fellow

  • Jack Denham: PhD student in neural control of behaviour in c. elegans

  • Omer Yuval: PhD student in neural control of behaviour in c. elegans

Links to older projects:

Past members:

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