Nicola Ferrier

Senior Fellow


Dr. Nicola Ferrier joined the Mathematics and Computer Science Division at Argonne National Lab in October 2013. At the University of Chicago she is a fellow of the Institute of Molecular and a Senior Fellow at the Computation Institute.  She is a member of the Northwestern-Argonne Institute for Science and Engineering (NAISE).

​Ferrier's research interests are in the use of computer vision (digital images) to control robots, machinery, and devices, with applications as diverse as medical systems, manufacturing, and projects that facilitate 'scientific discovery' (such as her recent project using machine vision and robotics for plant phenotype studies). The use of visual feedback in the control is advantageous when precise fixturing is impractical or impossible. Her work has been applied to visual monitoring of polymer processing, visual control of crystal formation processes, visual monitoring of nano-scale assembly processes, visual monitoring of plant growth and development for plant phenotype studies and friction stir welding systems.

Since joining MCS, Ferrier collaborates on projects that use image analysis, such as developing techniques to characterize 3D structure of materials using both tomographic methods and analysis of spectra from grazing incidence small angle x-ray scattering; and developing computational tools for 3D in situ dynamic measurement of biological systems  (http:://

​Ferrier did her undergraduate studies in mathematics, and a master's degree in computer science at the University of Alberta (1984, 1987). Her doctoral studies, on “control of robot binocular vision systems”, was completed at Harvard University in 1992. After a post-doctoral fellowship at Oxford University (1992-1994) and a post-doc at Harvard (1995), she joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1996. She became an Associate Professor in 2003 and Professor in 2009. She received the NSF CAREER award (1997) and the UW Vilas Associates Assistant Professorship (1999) and the UW Honored Instructor Award (2009).