Otto Hahn Medal for young MPIN scientist

Maximilian Jösch Krotki is awarded the prize for his outstanding research

June 08, 2011

This year, once again, a young scientist from the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology is bestowed the Otto Hahn Medal. The prize is awarded for outstanding scientific achievements and comes with prize money of 5000€. The Otto Hahn Medal acknowledges Maximilian Jösch Krotki for his pioneering methods and insights into the processing of optical information in the visual system of the fruit fly. The medal is awarded as part of the annual meeting of the Max Planck Society in Berlin on June 8.

The award of the Otto Hahn Medal aims at motivating excellent young scientists to continue their career in the sciences. The medal is named after the German Chemist and Nobel Prize laureate Otto Hahn, wo was president of the Max Planck Society between 1946 and 1960.

The acknowledged work

Maximilian Jösch Krotki while feeding a Wombat during his trip to Australia after finishing his PhD.

Maximilian Jösch Krotki is interested in understanding how the brain works. To this aim he applies a wide variety of methods, ranging from physiological studies to genetic methods and molecular biology approaches. His work focuses on the the tiny brain of the fruit fly Drosophila, where he investigates the interactions of individual nerve cells in the visual system. Here, he was the first to show with the aid of electrodes the electrical responses of nerve cells. This pioneering work enabled further studies using a combination of physiological and genetic methods. For further information about this work, which was published in the journal Current Biology.

In the further course of his PhD work, Maximilian Jösch Krotki took a closer look at the roles individual nerve cells play in the fruit fly brain. He discovered that fruit flies process optical information very similar to all other vertebrates investigated so far. In all these animals, the eye is not just a lens that takes pictures and converts them into electrical signals. Images are separated into different image channels once they have been projected onto the retina. This pre-sorted information is then transmitted to the brain as parallel image sequences. For further information about this work, which was published in the journal Nature please see the press release "Evolutionary bestseller in image processing".

Overall, Maximilian Jösch Krotki can look back on six publications from the time of his PhD studies; a seventh publication is currently in press. Today, Max has successfully completed his Master and PhD studies in the department of Alexander Borst at the MPI of Neurobiology and is now working at the Harvard University in Cambridge, USA. For these post-doc studies, he was awarded one of the coveted Long-Term Fellowships of the Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP).

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