I discovered my fascination for neuroscience during my time of voluntary social service in Wales, where I worked with young adults that had various learning disabilities. It is there that I decided to learn more about how the brain works, which is the reason why I chose to study biology. After my Bachelor studies at the University of Göttingen, Germany, I went on to do a Master in neuroscience in order to gain a deeper understanding of the neurophysiological mechanisms that underlie all sensory perception and behaviour.
Since the beginning of my studies, one question captured my attention more than others: How can various different stimuli be integrated in order to produce one behavioural output? I got the chance to investigate small parts of this puzzle when doing a behavioural study of the thermosensitive system in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster under the supervision of Bart Geurten in the lab of Martin Göpfert — a project which ultimately became my Master thesis. I also had the opportunity to work on the visual system of the blowfly Calliphora vicina during a summer project with Karin Nordström in Uppsala, Sweden.
For my PhD project, I am now switching from the input systems to the central processing sites of sensory information: the central complex and lateral accessory lobes in the brain of the Bogong moth (Agrotis infusa). These small, nocturnal moths travel many miles from their reproduction site to the cool caves in the Australian alps where they spend the summer months. How these moths find their way, especially considering the very limited amount of visual information available during their nocturnal migration, remains a mystery.
Under the supervision of Stanley Heinze and Eric Warrant, I will attempt to shed light on the neurophysiological basis of navigation in these fascinating insects. I will conduct intracellular recordings from central complex and lateral accessory lobe neurons and do a detailed anatomical study of these brain regions. Furthermore, I plan to model the central complex network in a collaboration with Barbara Webb at the University of Edinburgh. I am hoping that this project will enable us to gain deeper insights into the representation and integration of various sensory cues in the Bogong moth brain, while also furthering our general understanding of how a multitude of inputs can be integrated to result in one behavioural output.
Retrieved from Lund University's publications database
- The neuroecology of the insect central complex
- The sensory basis of long distance migration in Bogong moths