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Michael Neff


  • Ph.D. Computer Science, University of Toronto 2005
  • M.Sc. Computer Science, University of Toronto 1998
  • B. Engineering and Society, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada 1996


Associate Professor of Technocultural Studies and Computer Science, Michael Neff is a computer scientist with interests in the arts, culture and the environment. His research focuses on tools for character animation and understanding movement. He is particularly interested in expressive aspects of motion, applying lessons from the performing arts to the creation of computational tools and the use of physical simulation to improve the quality of animations. He is also interested in gesture, non-verbal communication and biomechanics.

Neff says, “My work lies at the intersection of computation and human movement, whether that be creating models of movement to drive character animation, using computational modeling to better understand movement or using movement to interact with computers. The problems we encounter are fundamentally interdisciplinary, bridging both art and science, and benefit from a wide range or perspectives. Therefore, I collaborate with people in computer graphics, artificial intelligence, psychology, robotics, movement analysis and the performing arts.”

He is cross-appointed to Computer Science and seeks to increase communication between the arts and technical communities on campus. Before arriving at Davis, he taught in Kenya and was a post-doctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics in Germany. He received the 2005 Alain Fournier Prize and an NSF CAREER Award in 2009. 

For Michael Neff’s publications, videos, CV, and more, please see his website.