Fractional order modelling of neurons

   Department of Biomedical Engineering

  ,  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Project Overview

Fractional order calculus (integro-differential equations that are of non-integral order) is an emerging methodology with wide applications across all areas of Physics and Engineering. It enables the modelling of complex phenomena assuming simple underlying laws. Furthermore, it provides an explanation to emergent properties in dynamic systems. From this perspective, there is significant interest in capturing emergent phenomena associated with cognitive functions using these newly- developed tools. The purpose of the proposed research is to develop novel signal processing modalities and better understanding of neuronal communications. The student will apply fractional order system identification techniques (time series analysis) to state space models of neuronal dynamics. Elements from linear and non-linear systems theory as well as elements of control theory (especially the work on coupled systems) will be used in the derivations. If the student is more interested in the biophysical aspects being incorporated in the models, biophysical state space models taking into consideration the physicochemical environment (elements of the chemical potential) within which the cells are placed will be developed. This will account for osmotic forces, electrical interactions between ions and the associated water potential parameters. Bond Graph theory to account for processes in different physico-chemical domains) and port-Hamiltonian formulations that account for power transfer in neuronal nodes of neuronal systems may also be developed. The models should be able to describe the dynamics of individual neurons or alternatively capture spatio-temporal emergent responses from a collection of neurons. Spatio-temporal statistical properties of neuronal responses could also be studied taking into consideration the theory of bio-dielectrics where charge hopping and trapping models have been well developed. This is a theoretical project with simulations performed in Matlab or Mathcad on theoretical models of neuronal responses to stimuli or using waveforms from data repositories, but there might be also opportunities to collect data for further processing. The work is particularly relevant to current worldwide developments for modelling brain function as well as attempts to develop neuromorphic chips. 

School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading:

The University of Reading, located west of London, England, provides world-class research education programs. The University’s main Whiteknights Campus is set in 130 hectares of beautiful parkland, a 30-minute train ride to central London and 40 minutes from London Heathrow airport. 

Our School of Biological Sciences conducts high-impact research, tackling current global challenges faced by society and the planet. Our research ranges from understanding and improving human health and combating disease, through to understanding evolutionary processes and uncovering new ways to protect the natural world. In 2020, we moved into a stunning new ~£60 million Health & Life Sciences building. This state-of-the-art facility is purpose-built for science research and teaching. It houses the Cole Museum of Zoology, a café and social spaces.

In the School of Biological Sciences, you will be joining a vibrant community of ~180 PhD students representing ~40 nationalities. Our students publish in high-impact journals, present at international conferences, and organise a range of exciting outreach and public engagement activities.

During your PhD at the University of Reading, you will expand your research knowledge and skills, receiving supervision in one-to-one and small group sessions. You will have access to cutting-edge technology and learn the latest research techniques. We also provide dedicated training in important transferable skills that will support your career aspirations. If English is not your first language, the University's excellent International Study and Language Institute will help you develop your academic English skills.

The University of Reading is a welcoming community for people of all faiths and cultures. We are committed to a healthy work-life balance and will work to ensure that you are supported personally and academically.


Applicants should have a good degree (minimum of a UK Upper Second (2:1) undergraduate degree or equivalent) in Biomedical Engineering or a strongly-related discipline. Applicants will also need to meet the University’s English Language requirements. We offer pre-sessional courses that can help with meeting these requirements.


How to apply:

Apply for a PhD in Biomedical Engineering at


Further information:



Dr Sillas Hadjiloucas; email:  



Biological Sciences (4) Mathematics (25) Physics (29)

Funding Notes

We welcome applications from self-funded students worldwide for this project.
If you are applying to an international funding scheme, we encourage you to get in contact as we may be able to support you in your application.


Web link:

Please also see more information on the following link:
Dr Sillas Hadjiloucas – University of Reading

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