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New professor at the Department of Biology

Marie Dacke has been promoted to professor in Sensory Biology.
Marie Dacke
Marie Dacke. Photo: Erik Thor

”Good news travel fast. Colleagues from all over the world have congratulated. I have shared a few bottles of champagne with my research group and with friends. I am so proud,” she says.

To a wider audience Marie Dacke is known as one of the members of the panel in the Swedish Television show Studio Natur. She has started, and still participate in, the popular Lund University Biology show. Four years ago she received the Ig Nobel Prize together with her colleagues Eric Warrant and Emily Baird at the Department of Biology at Lund University. They won the prize for their discovery that dung beetles use The Milky Way when they navigate across the savannah.

In her research she strives at understanding how biological compasses function. Everything from how they are constructed to which signals the compasses are able to read, and how the neural system sorts all the information that is gathered.

”I find it especially interesting to investigate biological compasses that work under extreme conditions. For example at nighttime under the starry sky, or in the forest where you can’t see the sky because of all the leaves and where the ground and air that organisms need to navigate through is filled with sticks, cavities and leaves.”

”Fortunately, my foremost model organism, the dung beetle, exists in almost all sorts of environment.”

Right now Marie Dacke is deeply involved in a PhD-project led by Lana Khaldy. They investigate how navigation systems are adjusted to different environments, such as dense forest or open savannah.

Which of the organisms that you study do you find the most interesting one?

”As a leader for a research group I spend a lot of time studying the people around me. It is fascinating to see how different people are and how different things trigger different individuals and get them going.”

Jan Olsson

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