The Leeds wormlab is the home of Netta Cohen and Tom Ranner in the School of Computing at the University of Leeds.

We are keen to grow our team. If you are interested in our work please get in touch!


What we do

Our group studies animal behaviour. We are interested in how behaviour emerges from the interplay between brain, body and environment.

We use very ‘simple’ animals as our playground. Studying a small and simple animal allows us to study many complementary contributions to behaviour, that are often studied in isolation in larger animals with larger brains and richer, more complex behaviours.

We combine theory and experiment. Our favourite experiments are tracking animals as they move in different environments. We can compare healthy animals with disease models, and track animals as they look for food, or solve different tasks. We also use fluorescent microscopes to track the activity of different brain cells or muscles during behaviour. Using mathematical and computer modeling, we derive model predictions that we can then test in the biological animals.

Research highlights

Select an image for more details.

We welcome everyone

When we learn some exciting principle of animal behaviour, we test it in robots. We also use biologically inspired robots to deploy in the real world, with a focus on tasks in infrastructure inspection.

To do all this, we have an exciting, interdisciplinary team and collaborate with other groups at the University of Leeds, nationally and internationally. Members of our team have joined us with backgrounds in computer science, mathematics, physics and robotics, as well as genetics and molecular biology, neurobiology and behavioural biology.

Potential PhD/postdoctoral candidates interested in experiment, modelling or combining the two are invited to contact us.

Prospective PhDs. If you are interested in pursuing a PhD with us, please check current vacancies in the School of Computing, or through the Fluid Dynamics Centre for Doctoral Training.

Postdocs. We do not currently have a funded position for postdocs. If you are interested, we are happy to try to support you in applying for funding (either as a named researcher on a grant, or for a Fellowship).

Meet Caenorhabditis elegans

C. elegans is a roundworm, or nematode. You can probably find it in your back yard (it’s only 1mm long and a hair thick so you will need a magnifying glass or low magnification microscope). This little critter lives in the soil and rotting vegetation. It has no eyes, but don’t let this mislead you: its behaviour is rich, and its tiny brain has been challenging scientists for many decades now.