Recipients of the Eric Kandel Young Neuroscientists Prize 2023 announced

21 July 2023

FENS News, Neuroscience News

On the occasion of World Brain Day, the non-profit Hertie Foundation and the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) are delighted to announce the winners of the Eric Kandel Young Neuroscientists Prize 2023. Prof. Mackenzie W. Mathis, PhD and Prof. Alexander Mathis, PhD receive the EUR 100,000 award for their scientific achievement in the field of computational behavioural neuroscience. The Eric Kandel Young Neuroscientists Prize is awarded every two years to outstanding young scientists in brain research.

Mackenzie W. Mathis and Alexander Mathis are assistant professors at the Brain Mind Institute, School of Life Sciences (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne), where they run two research groups. The focus of their collective work is uncovering the theoretical and neural basis of mechanisms underlying adaptive behaviour in intelligent systems. Among other things, they developed the first animal pose estimation computer vision tool that requires little user input data, called DeepLabCut. This tool is regarded as a breakthrough in life sciences and is used in over 1,000 leading companies, institutes and universities around the world.

“Mackenzie and Alexander Mathis made outstanding contributions in the field of behavioural neurosciences – for the first time in the history of the Eric Kandel Prize, two neuroscientists are honoured together”, explains Dr Astrid Proksch, Managing Director of the non-profit Hertie Foundation. “With the Eric Kandel Young Neuroscientists Prize, we would like to support their outstanding work and promote their scientific careers.”

Mackenzie W. Mathis and Alexander Mathis

Prof. Dr. Mackenzie W. Mathis, born in California, USA is the Bertarelli Foundation Chair of Integrative Neuroscience at EPFL. Previously, she led her independent laboratory at Harvard University as a Rowland Fellow (2017-2020) and completed her doctorate training at Harvard University in 2017. She is also an ELLIS Fellow, Vallee Scholar, former NSF Graduate Fellow and her work has been featured in the news at Nature, Bloomberg BusinessWeek and The Atlantic. 

Prof. Dr. Alexander Mathis, born in Bregenz, Austria is an Assistant Professor at EPFL in Computational Neuroscience and AI. Previously, he was a Marie-Curie Fellow at Harvard University and the University of Tübingen. He completed his doctorate training at Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich (LMU) in 2012, after studying mathematics at LMU previously. His work has been featured in the news at Nature, The Atlantic and Quanta Magazine.

Mackenzie and Alexander Mathis on their award: We are deeply honoured for the recognition of our joint work on developing computational tools for the study of animal behaviour. We thank the Hertie Foundation and FENS, and all the incredible users of our open-source tools that allow us to play a part in a lot of exciting neuroscience discoveries.”

Prof. Irene Tracey, President of FENS: “On behalf of FENS, I warmly congratulate Drs Mackenzie and Alexander Mathis on receiving the prestigious Eric Kandel Young Neuroscientists Prize for their exceptional achievements in advancing our understanding of adaptive animal behaviour through developing new tools and novel paradigm designs. The prize is an important contribution to recognising outstanding research in Europe, and to supporting young neuroscientists in furthering their careers.”

Since 2010, the Eric Kandel Young Neuroscientists Prize has been offered every two years by the Hertie Foundation in cooperation with FENS and falls under the patronage of the German Federal Minister of Education and Research, Bettina Stark-Watzinger.

Further information:


About the Eric Kandel Young Neuroscientists Prize

The Eric Kandel Young Neuroscientists Prize – named after the American neuroscientist and Nobel laureate Eric Kandel – will be officially awarded on 28 June 2024 at the FENS Forum in Vienna where the laureates will give the Eric Kandel Prize Lecture. This is the eighth time that the Hertie Foundation and FENS have awarded the prize of EUR 100,000, of which EUR 50,000 are earmarked for the establishment of a scientific cooperation relationship. The award jury consists of nine of the world’s leading brain researchers, including three Nobel laureates in medicine.

About the Hertie Foundation

The work of the Hertie Foundation focuses on two guiding themes: Brain research and strengthening democracy. The Foundation’s programmes and initiatives provide best-practice examples and inspiration within these areas. The focus is always on people and the specific improvement of their living conditions. The non-profit Hertie Foundation was established in 1974 by the heirs of the department store owner Georg Karg and is today one of the largest, ideologically independent and entrepreneurially unaffiliated foundations in Germany. The name “Hertie” goes back to Hermann Tietz, co-founder of the department store group of the same name at the end of the 19th century.

About the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS)

Founded in 1998, the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies is the main organisation for neuroscience in Europe. It currently represents 44 national and single-discipline neuroscience societies across 33 European countries and more than 22,000 member scientists. Discover FENS and subscribe to our biweekly News Alert, with information on our latest calls and activities.