Nancy Kopell is a mathematical biologist who uses mathematical methods of analysis to reveal new principles of organization within biological systems.
Kopell has helped to develop new methods in the qualitative theory of differential equations, and uses these methods to study the dynamics of networks of neurons. She is particularly known for collaborative work with neurophysiologists on how network behavior emerges from the properties of component cells and their interactions. She studies networks ranging from those that govern rhythmic motor activity to thalamocortical networks associated with sleep rhythms. Her long-range goal is to understand how the dynamical properties of local networks help to filter and transform the patterned input from other parts of the nervous system. Her numerous articles have appeared in such journals as Science, Physica D, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, and Neural Computation.
Kopell is the W. G. Aurelio Professor of Mathematics and Science at Boston University, where she also serve as co-director of the Center for Bio-Dynamics. She taught previously at Northeastern University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Kopell received a B.A. (1963) from Cornell University and an M.A. (1965) and a Ph.D. (1967) from the University of California, Berkeley.