I am a Professor of Complex Systems in the School of Computing, University of Leeds, where I also lead activity in the Applied Computing in Biology, Medicine and Health (BMH) Theme. I joined the School of Computing in 2002 as Lecturer. I completed my BSc in applied physics from Columbia University, in New York, followed by an MSc and PhD in physics from the Technion -- Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel. I started my research in theoretical quantum optics, before switching to biological physics. My PhD research combined experiment and theory to study contractile dynamics of cardiac muscle cells in vitro. I have been working on the interface of biological physics, computational and systems biology, and bioinspired computing ever since.
As a child and a young adult, I loved reading in almost any subject, from literature, history and psychology to philosophy and the natural sciences. In school, I had a special passion for mathematics and physics, but my breadth of interests meant that choosing one subject to delve into was challenging. Even well into my bachelors degree, I was far from sure which direction to follow, and where it might lead me.
I will always be grateful to one Professor in particular at my alma mater, Columbia University, whose steady encouragement and support to all the students he interacted with was invaluable to me. He not only fed my curiosity and love of science, but also gave me the confidence to continue my academic studies after graduation. Interestingly, as he was not in my department, was not my personal tutor, and was not my mentor in any official sense, I only came to regard him this way once I was introduced to the concept of mentoring many years later. Ever since, I have always benefited from mentors whom I could approach for advice and to whom I turn to discuss my work and broader aspects of my career.
I have two children. Both were born while I held a research fellowship from the EPSRC, which afforded me with flexible working arrangements. I took very brief maternity leaves when each was born. I also enjoyed a 3-month study leave immediately following my second maternity leave.
I would encourage all those who consider a scientific career to follow their interests and passions. If you are not yet sure what that passion is, don't be afraid to explore and try things out.
Be strategic -- plan and invest in your future.
Find the support you need in friends, family and mentors who believe in you and, most importantly, believe in yourself.