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Christopher Norman

Audio transcript of video.

I am a 3rd year PhD researcher in computational neuroscience; I use computational techniques to implement mechanistic models of neuronal systems. My research focusses on dynamical processes at synapses, the communication junctions between nerve cells. Through close collaborations with experimental neurobiologists I design mathematical models motivated by current biophysical understanding (like protein structure and ligand-binding properties); these models aim to improve our understanding of the brain, and, ultimately, inform treatments for neuropathologies including epilepsy, migraine, and ataxia.

Research Description:

I study dynamical systems at the sub-cellular scale, including simulations of voltage-gated calcium channels, diffusion of calcium ions from these channels into the pre-synaptic bouton, and the interaction of calcium with SNARE complex machinery to induce vesicle fusion and neurotransmitter release. Experimental techniques to resolve dynamics at these spatio-temporal scales are limited, (active zones of central synapses in vertebrates are < 1μm in diameter, and neurotransmitter release can occur within 1ms of a stimulus); this makes data-constrained models essential for understanding of these synaptic mechanisms and the corresponding synaptopathies.

A common mathematical theme found in the modelling of these systems is Markov-style kinetic schemes, where complex behaviours can be broken down into discrete states (e.g. conformational protein changes), and solved stochastically or deterministically in continuous time. Efficient computation is essential when constructing these models, for scalability; outputs generated at the synaptic, whole-cell, or even network, scale are often required, and involve a very large number of such small models. I typically use the MATLAB and Julia coding languages to implement my models on a computing cluster.

Qualifications, Study, and Skills:

MSc: 'Mathematics of Real World Systems' (Dist.). University of Warwick, 2016 - 17
  • Graph theory & complexity science
  • Machine learning & data analysis
  • Dynamical systems and population dynamics
  • Mathematics in finance
BSc MMathPhys: 'Mathematics and Physics' (1st). University of Warwick, 2012 - 16
  • Theoretical neuroscience, mathematical biology & medicine
  • Analysis, game theory, & statistics
  • Electromagnetism, energy generation, & scientific computing
  • Cosmology, quantum mechanics, & relativity
Skills and Experience:
  • Linux experience and coding in Python, Julia, and MATLAB
  • Engagement in data science events and competitions (e.g. Kaggle competitions)
  • Wet lab experiments involving C. elegans and the bacteria B. subtilis


I act / have acted as associate tutor for the following modules:

Mathematics for Computer Scientists 2 (2020): CS131 Webpage

First year module - Introducing the language and methods of mathematics as a foundation for computer science.

Quantitative Analysis for Management 1 (2019): IB121 Webpage

First year module - introducing applied statistics to Business and Management students.

Maths by Computer (2019): MA124 Webpage

First year module - teaching computational techniques in mathematics, using MATLAB.

Introduction to Computing (2018-19): Computing Resources

Masters level module - teaching Python with a focus on data analysis and manipulation.

Applied Dynamical Systems (2017-18): MA998 Webpage

Masters level module - teaching ODEs, stability analysis, bifurcations, and chaos.

Previous Research Projects:

Modelling Ecologies of Investors: Impact of Momentum Investment on Financial Stability - 2017

Robert MacKay (Warwick Maths Institute); Nicholas Beale & Richard Gunton (Sciteb, 23 Berkeley Square, London)

  • Design of a financial market model, including multiple assets and investment strategies
  • Highlighting the robust existence of a market-destabilising momentum investment threshold

Antibiotic Resistance and Group Motility in Bacterial Swarms - 2016
Marco Polin (Warwick Physics Dept.), Munehiro Asally (Warwick School of Life Sciences)

  • Multi-disciplinary collaboration to characterise the collective motion of swarming bacteria into antibiotic
  • Image analysis from wet-lab microscopy showed significance of bacterial ‘rafts’ in concentrated antibiotic

Behavioural Responses of C. elegans to Environmental Changes - 2015
Andre Brown (Imperial College London, Clinical Sciences Centre)

  • Novel tracking software identified new, environment-induced, behaviours in C. elegans
  • Creative environments, utilising light and heat, expanded the nematode’s measurable behaviour space

Martial arts:

I have trained in ITF-style Taekwon-Do since 2002, earning my 2nd degree black belt in 2010, and several medals at national & international competitions.

I have been the instructor at The University of Warwick Taekwondo Club since Jan. 2017, certified by our governing body, the Professional Unification of Martial Arts (P.U.M.A.).

Including practical self defence, traditional martial art technique, and competitive semi-contact sparring, Taekwon-Do is a versatile art renowned particularly for its dynamic kicking style. If you'd like to learn more about Taekwon-Do, please get in touch!



Personal Photo

PhD Student in Computational Neuroscience


Dr. Yulia Timofeeva: University of Warwick, Department of Computer Science

Dr. Kirill Volynski: UCL, Queen Square Institute of Neurology


LinkedIn Profile

chris dot norman at warwick dot ac dot uk

Office D2.11: Centre for Complexity Science, Zeeman Building