In 2014, the award was presented to Alexander Borst.
How do nerve cells compute? This is the question driving Alexander Borst's research for many decades now. It is the simple but rather profound observation that on the one hand, the brain performs astonishingly complex computations that are best described in mathematical terms, and on the other hand, the brain does that with neurons where ions flow across the membrane eliciting excitatory and inhibitory potentials or spikes. How these two aspects go together, i.e. the biophysics of neural computation, is at the centre of his research interest. As an example for neural computation, Alexander Borst studies motion vision in flies, bringing together a variety of methods like computer modelling, behavioural studies, electrophysiology, calcium imaging and genetics. This work is absolutely cutting edge and world class and will on a fundamental level deepen our understanding of motion vision. His research is truly innovative and multi-disciplinary including experimental and theoretical work; he is also implementing his knowledge about fly motion vision into the development of miniature airborne vehicles (the RoboFly project). Alexander Borst’s contributions over the past ten years have made him a leading figure in fly motion vision worldwide.
Alexander Borst is director at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Martinsried near Munich (Germany) and head of the department Systems and Computational Neurobiology. He was born on August 18, 1957 in Bad Neustadt/Saale, Germany, and studied biology at the University of Würzburg, where he obtained his PhD as a member of Martin Heisenberg's group. He worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen. Afterwards, he led an Independent Junior Research Group at the Friedrich-Miescher-Laboratory of the Max Planck Society. He was professor at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2001, he was appointed director at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology. He is a member of EMBO, the Leopoldina, and the Bavarian Academy of Sciences.
The FENS-EJN Award is sponsored by Wiley-Blackwell (publishers of EJN). It was presented at the 2014 FENS Forum in Milan (July 5 9, 2014).