Institute of Neuroscience

Staff Profile

Dr Vivek Nityananda

Research Associate



Ph.D., Animal Behaviour, Indian Institute of Science

M.Sc. Biological Sciences, Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences, Pilani

Previous Positions

College for Life Sciences Fellow, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Institute for Advanced Study

Marie Curie Research Fellow, Queen Mary University of London

Human Frontiers Science Program Research Fellow, Queen Mary University of London

Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Minnesota

Grants, Fellowships and Awards

2019 BBSRC David Phillips Fellowship

2018 Best Postdoc Paper Prize, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Newcastle University

2017 Shortlisted for Times Higher Education Research Project of the Year (STEM)

2016 Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Institute of Advanced Study, College for Life Sciences fellowship

2016 Wellcome Trust Small Arts Award (for a play about insect senses with Cap-A-Pie Theatre, Newcastle)

2016 EngageFMS- Creative Arts Practice Award (for a play about insect senses with Cap-A-Pie Theatre, Newcastle)

2015 Great North Museum Fellowship for Public Engagement

2014 Centre for Behaviour and Evolution Small Grant (with Dr Ronny Rosner and Dr Ghaith Tarawneh)

2012 Centre for Ecology and Evolution Research Grant (with Dr Shakti Lamba)

2011 Marie Curie Incoming International Fellowship

2010 Human Frontiers in Science Program Long Term Fellowship

2009 Shyamrao Kaikini Award for best PhD thesis in Ecology, Indian Institute of Science

External responsibilities

2018- present Academic Editor, PLoS One

2015 - present Member, Executive committee, Centre for Behaviour and Evolution, Newcastle University

2014 - present Member, Equality and Diversity Committee, Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University

2014 – present Member, Postdoctoral committee, Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University

2012 – 2013 Joint postdoctoral representative, Research Strategy Group, Queen Mary University of London

2012 - 2013 Joint secretary, London Evolutionary Research Network, a society for post-graduate students and postdoctoral researchers engaged in evolutionary research.

Reviewer for the following journals:

PLoS Biology,  Royal Society Interface, Behavioural Ecology, Scientific Reports, Functional Ecology, Animal Behaviour, Psychological Science, Journal of Comparative Physiology A, PLoS One, Current Opinion in Insect Science, Ecological Entomology, Ethology, Resonance, Current Science

Google ScholarClick here.

SCOPUS: Click here.


My research is multidisciplinary and combines ecology, evolutionary biology, neuroscience and psychophysics to study animal behaviour. I use a variety of techniques as part of my research, including behavioural observations, experiments, neurophysiology and agent-based modelling of neural and evolutionary processes. My work combines diverse approaches to provide an integrative understanding of behaviour.

Current projects:

1. Stereo vision in the praying mantis

I'm currently investigating the mechanisms underlying stereo vision in the praying mantis as part of a project funded by a Leverhulme Trust grant to Prof Jenny Read. Praying mantises are the only invertebrates known to have stereo vision. Our project investigates how they compute stereo vision and if their mechanisms of stereo vision are similar to those seen in primates or not. This will shed light on whether and how nervous systems evolve convergent solutions to similar problems. It could also lead to the development of novel mantis-inspired depth perception algorithms. You can read more about the project here:

2. The evolution of self-deception (in collaboration with Dr. Shakti Lamba).

Robert Trivers proposed that self deception could have evolved to facilitate the deception of others if it eliminates signals (e.g. stress) that reveal deception. We are developing an empirical research programme testing this idea in humans and other species. Our first findings are published here:


MMB8043 Comparative Cognition: Information Processing in Humans and Other Animals

Lectures on Concept Formation and Spatial Cognition

Previous lectures: Animal Communication, Sensory Ecology, Selective Attention, An Introduction to Matlab