Faculty Directory
Malcolm A. MacIver

Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Professor of Mechanical Engineering


2145 Sheridan Road
Tech B292
Evanston, IL 60208-3107

847-491-3540Email Malcolm MacIver


Center for Robotics and Biosystems


Biomedical Engineering

Mechanical Engineering


Master of Science in Robotics Program

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Ph.D. Neuroscience, University of Illinois at Urbana, Champaign, IL

M.A. Philosophy, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON

B.S. Computer Science, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON

Research Interests

Professor MacIver is interested in understanding how animals acquire sensory information and use that to guide movement and decision-making. This is a problem solved jointly by the body and the nervous system, and thus the studies his lab performs rarely fit into traditional academic disciplines, but rather span from computational modeling through to bio-inspired robotics, animal behavior studies and neurobiology.

Significant Recognition

  • Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering, 2009
  • NSF Career Award, 2009

Significant Professional Service

  • Organizer, First International Symposium on Robotic Electrosense, Aug 2012 College Park MD
  • Science Consultant for movie and television industry, National Academy of Science's Science Entertainment Exchange
  • Northwestern Faculty Senate Representative

Selected Publications

  • Hunt, L. T.; Daw, N. D.; Kaanders, P.; MacIver, M. A.; Mugan, U.; Procyk, E.; Redish, A. D.; Russo, E.; Scholl, J.; Stachenfeld, K.; Wilson, C. R.E.; Kolling, N., Formalizing planning and information search in naturalistic decision-making, Nature neuroscience 24(8):1051-1064 (2021).
  • Bhattacharyya, Kiran; McLean, David L.; Maciver, Malcolm A., Intersection of motor volumes predicts the outcome of ambush predation of larval zebrafish, Journal of Experimental Biology 224(5) (2021).
  • Mugan, Ugurcan; MacIver, Malcolm A., Spatial planning with long visual range benefits escape from visual predators in complex naturalistic environments, Nature communications 11(1) (2020).
  • Bhattacharyya, Kiran; McLean, David L.; MacIver, Malcolm A., Visual Threat Assessment and Reticulospinal Encoding of Calibrated Responses in Larval Zebrafish, Current Biology 27(18):2751-2762.e6 (2017).
  • Krakauer, John W.; Ghazanfar, Asif A.; Gomez-Marin, Alex; MacIver, Malcolm A.; Poeppel, David, Neuroscience Needs Behavior, Neuron 93(3):480-490 (2017).
  • MacIver, Malcolm A.; Schmitz, Lars; Mugan, Ugurcan; Murphey, Todd D.; Mobley, Curtis D., Massive increase in visual range preceded the origin of terrestrial vertebrates, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 114(12):E2375-E2384 (2017).

In the Classroom

Prof. MacIver teaches graduate level courses in neural engineering (BME 461 Computational Neuromechanics and Neuroethology), as well as undergraduate classes in neuroscience and python programming for science and engineering.


Malcolm MacIver In The News

New Theory Predicts Movement of Different Animals Using Sensing to Search

Hunting in Savanna-Like Landscapes May Have Poured Jet Fuel on Brain Evolution

Vision Not Limbs Led Fish onto Land 385 Milllion Years Ago