Where did you study before coming to Toronto: I received my Diploma in Biology (equivalent to Master) from the University of Wuerzburg, Germany, specializing in Neurobiology, Genetics and Biopsychology. My Diploma thesis was focused on the molecular basis of memory in Drosophila. I received my PhD from the Max Planck Institute in Goettingen, Germany. During my PhD I generated transgenic mouse models and used them in combination with molecular, physiological and behavioral techniques to investigate the hierarchical organization of the circadian timing system.
Currently working on: I am interested in how memories are reorganized with time. We learn so many different things every day, and somehow our brain has to choose which memories to keep and which ones to erase and to integrate new memories into existing and more generalized forms of memory. In one of my projects I investigate the hypothesis that sleep might be important in this process. In addition I look into the role of neurogenesis in memory reorganization and memory formation.
Why science? If I weren’t a scientist, I would be… In my opinion, science is so amazing because you can live from answering the questions that you are most interested in (given your grants get funded). I could not imagine any other job that gives you as much freedom as science does. If I weren’t a scientist, hmmm, I might have gone into law. As different as this might sound and without knowing details about such jobs, I imagine that it is in some way quite similar to science, because you use data, logic and reasoning to first figure out what you think the most likely “truth” is and then you convince others about what you believe in.
Interests outside the lab: Most of all I enjoy travelling and exploring new places. I also love food (eating more than preparing), photography and hiking.
Favorite place in Toronto: It is hard to choose one place, because what I enjoy most about Toronto is the diversity of its neighborhoods. Currently, I love exploring the diversity of Queen Street: Walking/Biking/Streetcar-ing along the entire east-west extension of this street allows you to have a relaxing walk along the Beaches, have a coffee or lunch break in one of Leslieville’s wonderful restaurants and cafes, spend some money and a lot of time in some of the individual shops on Queen West (there are some really interesting vintage furniture stores there), to enjoy some Toronto Artwork in one of Queen Wests galleries and to end the day with a drink in Ossington or Parkdale.