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

  • Professor, Pharmacology, Physiology & Biophysics, Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine
  • Co-Director, Engineering, Boston University


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


  • Published on 6/14/2023

    Soplata AE, Adam E, Brown EN, Purdon PL, McCarthy MM, Kopell N. Rapid thalamocortical network switching mediated by cortical synchronization underlies propofol-induced EEG signatures: a biophysical model. J Neurophysiol. 2023 Jul 01; 130(1):86-103. PMID: 37314079.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 4/28/2023

    Cattani A, Arnold DB, McCarthy M, Kopell N. Basolateral amygdala oscillations enable fear learning in a biophysical model. bioRxiv. 2023 Apr 28. PMID: 37163011.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 1/31/2023

    Aussel A, Fiebelkorn IC, Kastner S, Kopell NJ, Pittman-Polletta BR. Interacting rhythms enhance sensitivity of target detection in a fronto-parietal computational model of visual attention. Elife. 2023 Jan 31; 12. PMID: 36718998.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 1/4/2023

    Quast KB, Reh RK, Caiati MD, Kopell N, McCarthy MM, Hensch TK. Rapid synaptic and gamma rhythm signature of mouse critical period plasticity. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2023 Jan 10; 120(2):e2123182120. PMID: 36598942.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 5/6/2022

    Hass J, Ardid S, Sherfey J, Kopell N. Constraints on persistent activity in a biologically detailed network model of the prefrontal cortex with heterogeneities. Prog Neurobiol. 2022 Aug; 215:102287. PMID: 35533813.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 5/2/2022

    Adam EM, Brown EN, Kopell N, McCarthy MM. Deep brain stimulation in the subthalamic nucleus for Parkinson's disease can restore dynamics of striatal networks. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2022 May 10; 119(19):e2120808119. PMID: 35500112.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 7/7/2021

    Llorens A, Tzovara A, Bellier L, Bhaya-Grossman I, Bidet-Caulet A, Chang WK, Cross ZR, Dominguez-Faus R, Flinker A, Fonken Y, Gorenstein MA, Holdgraf C, Hoy CW, Ivanova MV, Jimenez RT, Jun S, Kam JWY, Kidd C, Marcelle E, Marciano D, Martin S, Myers NE, Ojala K, Perry A, Pinheiro-Chagas P, Ri├Ęs SK, Saez I, Skelin I, Slama K, Staveland B, Bassett DS, Buffalo EA, Fairhall AL, Kopell NJ, Kray LJ, Lin JJ, Nobre AC, Riley D, Solbakk AK, Wallis JD, Wang XJ, Yuval-Greenberg S, Kastner S, Knight RT, Dronkers NF. Gender bias in academia: A lifetime problem that needs solutions. Neuron. 2021 07 07; 109(13):2047-2074. PMID: 34237278.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 4/14/2021

    Pittman-Polletta BR, Wang Y, Stanley DA, Schroeder CE, Whittington MA, Kopell NJ. Differential contributions of synaptic and intrinsic inhibitory currents to speech segmentation via flexible phase-locking in neural oscillators. PLoS Comput Biol. 2021 04; 17(4):e1008783. PMID: 33852573.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 11/23/2020

    Bastos AM, Lundqvist M, Waite AS, Kopell N, Miller EK. Layer and rhythm specificity for predictive routing. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020 12 08; 117(49):31459-31469. PMID: 33229572.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 11/17/2020

    Gelastopoulos A, Kopell NJ. Interactions of multiple rhythms in a biophysical network of neurons. J Math Neurosci. 2020 Nov 17; 10(1):19. PMID: 33201339.

    Read at: PubMed

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