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I am fascinated by complexity emerging out of seemingly simple building structures. In 2019 I joined Michael Reiser's lab at Janelia to learn more about the mechanisms that lead from visual input to behavior. Specifically, individual fruit fly's reaction to stimuli with potentially ambiguous interpretations appears to be a promising way to gain a better understanding of the underlying neural mechanism. To that end, I am currently building a robotic experimental setting that exposes Drosophila to a range of stimuli inside a "virtual reality."
In building the automated rig, I benefit from my initial training as a computer scientist in Berlin and Dresden and my almost 10 years of professional experience in the semiconductor industry in Dresden. While observing software development during these years, I was intrigued to see that solutions to challenging problems appear during "Eureka moments." I followed these observations in an interdisciplinary doctoral training CogNovo supported by the EU Marie Skłodowska-Curie program at the University of Plymouth. In my thesis "Investigating the Moment when Solutions emerge in Problem Solving," I followed three different directions. Firstly the culturally-driven educational aspects of engineering and academic training. Secondly, I discussed the ambiguity of related terminology. Finally, I observed the individual psychological experience in more detail using behavioral and neuroimaging measures.
As the observation of Aha experiences at this level left fundamental questions unaddressed, I decided to look for a model that allows for more precise manipulations and measurements. Drosophila exhibit a broad set of behavior, including flexible optomotor responses to a range of seemingly simple visual stimuli, suggesting underlying complex cognitive mechanisms. Using the rich toolset available at Janelia, I am thrilled to be working as part of the Reiser Lab towards understanding emerging phenomena within the fruit fly's visual system.