Recognition of young scientists' outstanding publications

Tod Thiele and Katrin Vogt are awarded 1000€ each for their papers

Tod Thiele and Katrin Vogt recieve the Young Scientist Award 2015. Herwig Baier, Managing Director of the Institute, congratulated the awardees on their achievements.

Publishing one’s research results is a fundamental part of science since the 17th century. Only results published in a scientific journal are worldwide recognized as sound results. During the publication process, results are reviewed by a number of other scientists, keeping the standards high and acting as a quality control. Furthermore, the publication of results is at the core of the scientific spirit: publication makes results accessible to scientists all over the world, so that they can integrate the new knowledge into their own studies.

The Young Scientist Award of the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology pays tribute to this significance of scientific publications. Every year, the Institute honors two outstanding publications of gifted young scientists. Elected papers were published in the previous year, are of unusual high quality and significantly contribute to current scientific knowledge.

For the year 2014, Katrin Vogt and Tod Thiele receive the award, which comes with a prize money of 1.000 Euro each.

The recognized publications and awardees

Katrin Vogt: How the fruit fly learns about colors
The fruit fly Drosophila forms visual and olfactory memories via a shared neuronal circuit

It is crucial to learn and form associations about environmental stimuli. For example, while red berries may be toxic, a red apple is edible. The better and more precise we learn to distinguish objects and make associations, the better we are prepared for future decisions. How and where the brain is able to associate the different traits of an object and its "value" (for example, edible or not), is mainly unknown. Katrin Vogt and her colleagues now found that the fruit fly Drosophila learns colors in the same brain region as odors. In the so-called mushroom body, both sensory stimuli can be associated with a punishment or reward signal mediated by the same subsets of dopamine neurons. The study indicates that the mushroom body could be a center for multimodal memory formation, enabling the fly to associate sensory traits of an object, such as odor and color, with pleasant or harmful value. (eLife, August 2014)

Katrin Vogt studied biology at the Julius Maximilians University of Wuerzburg. In 2008, she came for her diploma and PhD theses to the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology. Here, she worked in the independent research group Behavioral Genetics, headed by Hiromu Tanimoto. Being awarded her PhD in fall 2014, Katrin Vogt currently works as post-doc at the Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan.

Tod Thiele: Division of labor in the fish brain
A small group of nerve cells control swim posture

For a fish to swim forward, the nerve cells, or neurons, in its brain and spine have to control the swishing movements of its tail with very close coordination. However, the posture of the tail, which determines swimming direction somewhat like a rudder, also needs to be fine-tuned by the brain’s activity. Using the innovative method of optogenetics, scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Martinsried have now identified a group of only about 15 nerve cells which steer the movements of the tail fin. Movements of the human body are also controlled via nerve pathways in the same region of the brain, which may therefore use processing mechanisms similar to those in fish. (Neuron, Juli 2014)

The research news in the internet

The research news in the internet Tod Thiele studied Biology at the Hamilton College in Clinton, New York (USA) and und was awarded his PhD at the University of Oregon in Eugene (USA). Afterwards, he continued his research in the department of Herwig Baier at the University of California in San Francisco (USA). Together with Herwig Baier and his group, Tod Thiele moved in 2012 to Martinsried to work at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology. Since January 2015, Tod Thiele works as Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto in Scarborough (Kanada).

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