Susan Stepney

Professor of Computer Science
University of York

Director of the York Cross-disciplinary Centre for Systems Analysis (YCCSA)



I gained a first class honours degree in Natural Sciences (Theoretical Physics) and a PhD in Astrophysics from the University of Cambridge. After a postdoc position there I left academia to work in the computer industry, first at GEC-Marconi, then at Logica UK, mostly working on correctness proofs of high integrity systems. I returned to academia in 2002, coming to York to research unconventional computing, complex systems, and artificial life. My interest in LCAB includes computational simulation of complex systems, and application of biological principles to other domains.


One major strand of research is computational simulation of complex systems, in particular, biological systems.  The main CoSMoS approach to support the specification, design, implementation, and use of demonstrably fit-for-purpose simulations, was developed in the Complex Systems Modelling and Simulation project. This approach has been applied to many systems, including a model of stem-cell differentiation in the CellBranch project.

Another relevant strand of research is Artificial Life, including the application of biological principles to engineering domains.  Projects here include Plazzmid, Artificial Biochemical Networks: AlBiNo, Evolution of Evolvability: EvoEvo.

Also relevant to LCAB is work on developing a process for cross-disciplinary collaborative working, as established in YCCSA through the TRANSIT “Bridging the Gaps” project.

Publication Highlights 

Stepney, S, Polack, FAC 2018, Engineering Simulations as Scientific Instruments, Springer 

Beslon G, Elena SF, Hogeweg P, Schneider D, Stepney S 2018, Evolving Living Technologies—Insights from the EvoEvo Project. In: Colanzi T., McMinn P. (eds) Search-Based Software Engineering. SSBSE 2018. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 11036. Springer, Cham

Clark, EB, Hickinbotham, SJ & Stepney, S 2017, Semantic closure demonstrated by the evolution of a universal constructor architecture in an artificial chemistry. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, vol. 14, 20161033. 

Greaves, RB, Dietmann, S, Smith, A, Stepney, S & Halley, JD 2017, A conceptual and computational framework for modelling and understanding the nonequilibrium gene regulatory networks of mouse embryonic stem cells. PLoS Computational Biology, vol. 13, no. 9, e1005713. 

Lones, MA, Fuente, LA, Turner, AP, Caves, L, Stepney, S, Smith, SL & Tyrrell, A 2014, Artificial Biochemical Networks: Evolving Dynamical Systems to Control Dynamical Systems. IEEE Transactions on Evolutionary Computation, vol. 18, no. 2, 6423886, pp. 145-166. 


Find out more about Susan's work

Contact us

Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity

Contact us

Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity