Prof. Henrik Mouritsen was born in Aalborg (Denmark) in 1971. He has been a professor at the University of Oldenburg (Germany) since 2007, where he is head of the Animal Navigation (Neurosensorik) research group.
Using a wide range of innovative and multidisciplinary techniques that had not previously been used in bird navigation research, Prof. Mouritsen and his international research group succeeded in identifying four areas of the brain that birds can use to perceive the Earth’s magnetic field in two different ways: two areas process light-related information from the eye, which the birds use to perceive the compass direction of the magnetic field visually. The other two areas are linked via nerve tracts to the upper part of the beak, where scientists suspect there is a magnetic sensor of iron-mineral-based crystalline structures. Prof. Mouritsen has already received numerous prizes and distinctions for his research, including a Lichtenberg Professorship from the VW Foundation in 2006.
The Eric Kandel Young Neuroscientists Prize 2011 was presented to Prof. Mouritsen during an official ceremony on 1 June 2011 in St. Paul’s Church in Frankfurt am Main, alongside the Hertie Senior Research Professorship in Neuroscience 2011, in the presence of the Mayor of Frankfurt am Main, Ms Petra Roth. Three Nobel Prize winners for medicine took part in a panel discussion with Gert Scobel (ZDF/3sat journalist) on “An ideal world? How scientists see the future”.