Nancy Kopell, PhD

Professor, Mathematics and Statistics

Nancy Kopell
111 Cummington St


Nancy Kopell received her B.A. from Cornell University in 1963 and her Ph.D. from Berkeley in 1967. She is currently the 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.

Other Positions

  • Co-Director, Center for Computational Neuroscience & Neural Technology, Boston University
  • Professor, Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics, Boston University School of Medicine


  • University of California, Berkeley, PhD
  • University of California, Berkeley, MA
  • Cornell University, AB


  • Published on 8/1/2019

    Gelastopoulos A, Whittington MA, Kopell NJ. Parietal low beta rhythm provides a dynamical substrate for a working memory buffer. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Aug 13; 116(33):16613-16620. PMID: 31371513.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 4/8/2019

    Ardid S, Sherfey JS, McCarthy MM, Hass J, Pittman-Polletta BR, Kopell N. Biased competition in the absence of input bias revealed through corticostriatal computation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Apr 23; 116(17):8564-8569. PMID: 30962383.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 12/5/2018

    Zhou Y, Vo T, Rotstein HG, McCarthy MM, Kopell N. M-Current Expands the Range of Gamma Frequency Inputs to Which a Neuronal Target Entrains. J Math Neurosci. 2018 Dec 05; 8(1):13. PMID: 30519798.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 10/21/2018

    James NM, Gritton HJ, Kopell N, Sen K, Han X. Muscarinic receptors regulate auditory and prefrontal cortical communication during auditory processing. Neuropharmacology. 2019 01; 144:155-171. PMID: 30352212.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 8/9/2018

    Sherfey JS, Ardid S, Hass J, Hasselmo ME, Kopell NJ. Flexible resonance in prefrontal networks with strong feedback inhibition. PLoS Comput Biol. 2018 08; 14(8):e1006357. PMID: 30091975.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 4/16/2018

    Pittman-Polletta BR, Quach A, Mohammed AI, Romano M, Kondabolu K, Kopell NJ, Han X, McCarthy MM. Striatal cholinergic receptor activation causes a rapid, selective and state-dependent rise in cortico-striatal ß activity. Eur J Neurosci. 2018 Oct; 48(8):2857-2868. PMID: 29528521.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 3/15/2018

    Sherfey JS, Soplata AE, Ardid S, Roberts EA, Stanley DA, Pittman-Polletta BR, Kopell NJ. DynaSim: A MATLAB Toolbox for Neural Modeling and Simulation. Front Neuroinform. 2018; 12:10. PMID: 29599715.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 1/1/2018

    Stanley DA, Roy JE, Aoi MC, Kopell NJ, Miller EK. Low-Beta Oscillations Turn Up the Gain During Category Judgments. Cereb Cortex. 2018 Jan 01; 28(1):116-130. PMID: 29253255.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 12/11/2017

    Soplata AE, McCarthy MM, Sherfey J, Lee S, Purdon PL, Brown EN, Kopell N. Thalamocortical control of propofol phase-amplitude coupling. PLoS Comput Biol. 2017 12; 13(12):e1005879. PMID: 29227992.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 5/31/2017

    Singer AC, Talei Franzesi G, Kodandaramaiah SB, Flores FJ, Cohen JD, Lee AK, Borgers C, Forest CR, Kopell NJ, Boyden ES. Mesoscale-duration activated states gate spiking in response to fast rises in membrane voltage in the awake brain. J Neurophysiol. 2017 Aug 01; 118(2):1270-1291. PMID: 28566460.

    Read at: PubMed

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