Ever been curious to know a little more about what your friends and colleagues in Tübingen work on, what secrets they have uncovered while living here, and what inspired them to come and work here in the first place?  Then read on: three of Tübingen’s finest doctoral students were kind enough to answer my questions on their research work and favourite things about living in Tübingen.

Abhilash Dwarakanath is originally from Bangalore, India.  He’s lived in Germany for 6 years now, with the last three and a half of those in Tübingen.

What made you decide to come to Tübingen?

Christoph Kayser was here. He works on multisensory perception with electrophysiology, psychophysics and computational modelling. Along with monkeys and the facilities at this MPI, it was always the first choice.

Whose lab do you work in, and what made you choose to work there?

I work in the Logothetis department. Even places like MIT do not have the range of technical support and facilities that we find here, coupled with solid veterinary and animal support. And of course, the department is full of excellent scientists with Logothetis himself at the top.

What is your current research project about?

My current research project is about unravelling the functional connectivities in the monkey pre-frontal cortex. I am also looking at cortico-cortical communication across long distances (i.e. PFC to primary/parietal areas) and how information flow changes or is modulated during multistable perception as opposed to spontaneous activity.

What was your favourite course at the GTC?

I liked the computational neuroscience course that Martin Giese offered.

What’s your best discovery in Tübingen?

The Blauer Salon. The Bären but it got closed. The Indian Imbiss behind Belthlestr where the guy has been serving home-style vegetarian food for over thirty years and has won awards. The Hanselmann butcher's shop on Schmiedtorstr. is one of its kind.

Jens Klinzing is German, and moved to Tübingen four years ago. 

What made you decide to come to Tübingen?

I was born in Tübingen but moved away soon after birth. I came back to Tübingen for the master’s program (Neural and Behavioral Sciences) during which I got to know Tübingen for the first time really. The most important reasons to join this particular program were its curriculum that perfectly fit my interests, and the good things I had heard about the program and the city. When I came over for the admission interviews, the weather was beautiful, people were hanging out at the river, and the welcoming was so friendly that I chose Tübingen over Amsterdam and Berlin.

Tübingen gets smaller over time but after getting my master’s degree I figured I could survive here for another 3-4 years before venturing out into the wide world again.

Whose lab do you work in, and what made you choose to work there?

I’m in the workgroup of Jan Born under the direct supervision of Susanne Diekelmann. This is the group and the topic I already worked on for my master thesis. I stayed because I wanted to know more about my topic, because the conditions were great, and because the supervision was close when I needed it and loose when I wanted it. Another important point was that the lab has a history of creating successful scientists. I had the feeling that, when projects were discussed and decisions were made, my professor also kept the career of his PhD students in mind.

Furthermore, a PhD takes some time. After having moved for my bachelors and then for my masters, I didn’t want to risk going to a faraway lab and to commit again to a new environment that I could scout only during a short lab visit and some quick talks with potential colleagues.

What is your current research project about?

The brain strengthens and transforms new memories during sleep. I look at how brain areas cooperate to accomplish this in humans.

What was your favourite course at the GTC?

Evolutionary Cognitive Neuroscience by Andreas Nieder.

What’s your best discovery in Tübingen?

The protestant student accommodation (Evangelisches Stift) has a beautiful garden with vast meadows and apple trees. If you have the chance to spend an afternoon there, maybe for a picnic, go for it!

Renée Hartig is from Long Island, New York, in the USA.  She moved to Tübingen for the Master’s course, and is now beginning her doctoral studies. 

What made you decide to come to Tübingen?

I was studying at Stony Brook University and found my passion for neuroscience there.  After specialising in the field, I knew that the next step in my career path was to earn a doctorate.  So, in my pursuit of the right place to do this, I came across the notion to combine my love of Europe with my career.  Germany was my top pick, purely from my ancestral descendants, and to hone in a little deeper, I followed the route to the Max Planck Institute (MPI), a place I already knew had an astonishing international reputation.

Whose lab do you work in, and what made you choose to work there?

Dr. Henry Evrard, an independent group leader at the CIN (Centre for Integrative Neuroscience) and guest researcher at the MPI for Biological Cybernetics. I decided to work there after attending the lab visit of the first spring semester at the Graduate School.  Henry came to talk to us about the research there and even brought us down to see the animal facilities.  What I liked most about the lab was that it housed cellular, anatomical and functional components.  I was really seeking a lab with this level of diversity.

What is your current research project about?

Localising taste in the primate cortex. This involves all tastes, and using fMRI in humans and non-human primates to compare functional localization of this sensory input between humans and non-human primates. Additionally we will do electrophysiology alongside fMRI in the non-human primates.  Previous work has only looked separately at data from monkey or humans. This research will allow us to look into comparative activity and function, and through this get more insight into how the cortex, namely the insular cortex, is cytoarchitectonically and topographically organized.

What was your favourite course at the GTC?

Neuroregeneration and Tissue Engineering.  This is an area of personal interest that one day I hope to incorporate into my work.

What’s your best discovery in Tübingen?

Saints and Scholars - I liked it so much I moved behind it.  The owner of Saints and Scholars, Peter Wolf, hosted a charity event that I organized, the Fastnet Spendenlauf, an event I hope to be continued by GTC students interested in raising money for neurological diseases.  Note that the drinks are affordably priced and come in a variety of flavours and sizes - “sehr günstig”.  They have good burgers too.


Celia Foster is a PhD candidate in the Vision and Cognition lab of Dr. Andreas Bartels in Tübingen, Germany.


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