me

About me

I am a researcher in the Center for Complex Network Research (CCNR), with interests in the emerging field of Network Neuroscience. I have a Masters in Mathematics and Physics from the University of Warwick (2011), and received my PhD from the University of Cambridge (2015). My expertise lies in investigating the topology and organisational principles of various kinds of brain networks, from C. elegans to mouse to human. I am currently working on applying and adapting techniques from network control theory to probe neuronal or near-neuronal level wiring diagrams from smaller organisms. I co-instruct Phys 5116: Complex Networks alongside Prof. Albert-László Barabási, and am invested in bringing Network Science approaches to broader audiences and educational settings.

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Research

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network control principles in neuroscience

The brain must control its behaviour. Elucidating the structural requirements to facilitate this can reveal fundamental organising principles and mechanisms pertaining to the function of neuronal systems, and constraints of their connectome.

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topology and geometry of brain networks

Time and again, studies into the topology of brain networks across different species, scales, amd modality recover the same topological features. But these networks are also physical objects, and we are just starting to learn about their spatial properties.

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network neuroscience

From the interactions of proteins and genes and within the cell, to neuronal circuitry, to correlations between macroscopic brain regions, the brain is inherently, at all spatiotemporal scales, a network.

Publications

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Network control principles predict neuron function in the Caenorhabditis elegans connectome

Recent studies on the controllability of complex systems offer a powerful mathematical framework to systematically explore...

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Recordings of Caenorhabditis elegans locomotor behaviour following targeted ablation of single motorneurons

Lesioning studies have provided important insight into the functions of brain regions in humans and other animals...

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The rich club of the C. elegans neuronal connectome

There is increasing interest in topological analysis of brain networks as complex systems...

publication list

Caenorhabditis elegans and the network control framework - FAQs
Emma K. Towlson, Gang Yan, Petra E. Vértes, Yee Lian Chew, Denise S. Walker, William R. Schafer, and Albert-László Barabási.
Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, 2018, 373(1758).

Editorial: Bridging Scales and Levels
Emma K. Towlson and Fabrizio De Vico Fallani.
Network Neuroscience, 2018, 2(3):303-305.

NiCE Teacher Workshop: Engaging K-12 Teachers in the Development of Curricular Materials That Utilize Complex Networks Concepts
Emma K. Towlson, Lori Sheetz, Ralucca Gera, Jon Roginski, Catherine Cramer, Stephen Uzzo, and Hiroki Sayama.
Complicity, 2018, 15(1).

Network control principles predict neuron function in the Caenorhabditis elegans connectome
Gang Yan†, Petra E. Vértes†, Emma K. Towlson†, Yee Lian Chew, Denise S. Walker, William R. Schafer, and Albert-László Barabási
†These authors contributed equally to this work.
Nature, 2017, 550: 519-523.

Recordings of Caenorhabditis elegans locomotor behaviour following targeted ablation of single motorneurons
Yee Lian Chew, Denise S. Walker, Emma K. Towlson, Petra E. Vértes, Gang Yan, Albert-László Barabási, and William R. Schafer
Scientific Data, 2017, 4: 170156.

Effect of antipsychotics on the community structure of brain functional networks
Ryan Flanagan, Lucas Lacasa, Emma K. Towlson, Sang Hoon Lee, and Mason A. Porter.
Under review, 2018. Preprint: arXiv:1806.00080.

Brain Networks Reveal the Effects of Antipsychotic Drugs on Schizophrenia Patients and Controls
Emma K. Towlson, Petra E. Vértes, Ulrich Müller, and Sebastian E. Ahnert.
Under review, 2018. Preprint: arXiv:1806.00128.

Multi-Subject Stochastic Blockmodels for Adaptive Analysis of Individual Differences in Human Brain Network Cluster Structure
Dragana M. Pavlović, Bryan Guillaume, Emma K. Towlson, Soroosh Afyouni, Petra E. Vértes, Thomas Yeo, Edward T. Bullmore, and Thomas E. Nichols.
Under review, 2018.

The Rich Club of the C. elegans Neuronal Connectome
Emma K. Towlson, Petra E. Vértes, Sebastian E. Ahnert, William R. Schafer, and Edward T. Bullmore.
The Journal of Neuroscience, 2013, 33(15): 6380-6387.

conference proceedings

Cultivating Tipping Points: Network Science in Teaching
Catherine Cramer, Ralucca Gera, Michaela Labriole, Hiroki Sayama, Lori Sheetz, Emma Towlson, and Stephen Uzzo.
Complex Networks IX: Proceedings of the 9th Conference on Complex Networks CompleNet 2018, Springer Proceedings in Complexity, pp 175-183.

Centrality Clubs and Concepts of the Core: Decoding the Communicative Organisation of the Brain
Emma K. Towlson, Petra E. Vértes, Sebastian E. Ahnert, and Edward T. Bullmore.
Proceedings of the European Conference on Complex Systems 2012, Springer Proceedings in Complexity 2013, pp 497-501.

Teaching

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phys5116: complex networks

Graduate level course introducing the fundamentals of Network Science at Northeastern University.

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network science bootcamps

Intensive, hands-on summer courses.

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network science in schools

We live an increasingly interconnected world, and systems thinking is not only important it is inevitable.

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warwick in africa

This highly impactful project aims to improve mathematics education in Africa, empowering and inspiring learners and educators alike.

Journeys

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emma runs a marathon

Mentally, I was made for this. Physically? We're working on it...

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homeward bound

100 inspirational women scientists. 1 year of leadership training. 3 week Antarctic voyage.