Dr Tom Matheson

Reader (Associate Professor) in Neurobiology

School/Department: Genetics and Genome Biology, Department of

Telephone: +44 (0)116 223 1263



Dr Tom Matheson completed a PhD in Zoology at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, before moving to the University of Cambridge, UK, for postdoctoral research.

Whilst in Cambridge Dr Matheson obtained a Research Fellowship at Girton College, and an Advanced Research Fellowship from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

Dr Matheson moved to a lectureship at the University of Leicester and was promoted to Reader (Associate Professor). Dr Matheson ran a successful neurobiology research lab funded by grants and a Research Development Fellowship from the BBSRC. The lab produced a wide range of research papers, trained numerous postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers, hosted research fellows and work experience students. Dr Matheson is leading the development of Neuroscience and Psychology teaching and contributes to a wide range of other teaching in Biological Sciences.

Dr Matheson has sat on numerous grant and fellowship panels for national and international funding agencies and currently sits on the board of the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs).



Dr Matheson has a broad range of interests in sensory-motor processing, neuronal plasticity and biomechanics, with a particular focus on the interactions between organisms and their environment, including how organisms adapt to changes in the environment.

Much of Dr Matheson’s work has used the locust Schistocerca gregaria, but has also used marine crustacea including the Antarctic isopod Glyptonotus antarcticus.


H Verlinden, L Sterck, J Li, Z Li, A Yssel, Y Gansemans, R Verdonck, M Holtof, H Song, ST Behmer, GA Sword, T Matheson, SR Ott, D Deforce, F Van Nieuwerburgh, Y Van de Peer, J Vanden Broeck. First draft genome assembly of the desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria. F1000Research 2021;9:775.

AFA Al-Zankana, T Matheson and DM Harper. How strong is the evidence - based on macroinvertebrate community responses - that river restoration works? Ecohydrology & Hydrobiology 2020;20(2):196-214.

N Harischandra, AJ Clare, J Zakotnik, LML Blackburn, T Matheson and V Dürr. Evaluation of linear and non-linear activation dynamics models for insect muscle. PLoS Computational Biology 2019;15(10):e1007437.

D Calas-List, AJ Clare, A Komissarova, TA Nielsen and T Matheson, Motor inhibition affects the speed but not accuracy of aimed limb movements in an insect. Journal of Neuroscience 2014;34(22):7509-7521.

JM Ache and T Matheson. Passive joint forces are tuned to limb use in insects and drive movements without motor activity. Current Biology 2013;23(15):1418-1426.

SM Rogers, HG Krapp, M Burrows and T Matheson. Compensatory plasticity at an identified synapse tunes a visuo-motor pathway. Journal of Neuroscience 2007;27(17):4621-4633.

JS Young, LS Peck and T Matheson. The effects of temperature on walking and righting in temperate and Antarctic crustaceans. Polar Biology 2006;29(11):978-987.

J Zakotnik, T Matheson and V Dürr. Co-contraction and passive forces facilitate load compensation of aimed limb movements. Journal of Neuroscience 2006;26(19):4995-5007.

SM Rogers, T Matheson, K Sasaki, K Kendrick, SJ Simpson and M Burrows. Substantial changes in central nervous system neurotransmitters and neuromodulators accompany phase change in the locusts. Journal of Experimental Biology 2004;207(20):3603-3617.

LH Field and T Matheson. Chordotonal organs of insects. Advances in Insect Physiology 1998;27:1-228.


Dr Matheson is leading the development of BSc Biological Sciences (Neuroscience and Psychology) teaching, and teaches the following modules on the Biological Sciences, Zoology, and Neuroscience BSc courses:

  • BS2059 Global Change Biology and Conservation
  • BS2066 Behavioural Neurobiology (Convenor)
  • BS2077 Neurobiology and Animal Behaviour (Co-convenor)
  • BS2078 A Field Guide to Evolution
  • BS3016 Neuroscience Futures
  • BS3055 Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience
  • BS3064 Comparative Neurobiology (Convenor)
  • BS3X00 Third Year Projects
  • BS4601 & PS7601 Advanced Research Methods

Press and media

  • Locust swarming
  • Insect movement
  • Insect biomechanics


  • Board member, NC3Rs
  • Training Fellowships Panel member, NC3Rs
  • Grants Panel member, BBSRC


  • Girton College Cambridge, Research Fellow
  • BBSRC, Advanced Research Fellow
  • BBSRC, Research Development Fellow
  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy 
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