My research is focussed on how nervous systems produce behaviour mainly by means of physiological methods. A central question in behavioural control is how central pattern generators (CPGs) for locomotion are activated. I use both insects and young frog tadpoles as experimental animals, whose central nervous systems (CNS) contain relatively few, easily accessible neurones. Such it is possible to work on identified cells and single neurones that are known to control complex behaviours.
In my dissertation, under supervision of Profs Paul Stevenson and Klaus Schildberger, I addressed the question which neurones and what system of neurotransmitters and receptors are involved in the activation of the centrally generated locust flight motor pattern. In Bristol in the lab of Prof Alan Roberts and Dr Steve Soffe I examine the activation of the swimming CPG in Xenopus tadpoles.
I use single and paired whole-cell patch techniques, extracellular recordings, detailed pattern analysis, specific pharmacological treatments as well as anatomical and immunocytochemical studies to define the roles and identify neurones in the initiation of behaviour.
I studied Biology with emphasis on behavioural biology, neurobiology, animal physiology and psychology at the Universities of Leipzig, Germany, and Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. After acquiring my Diploma in 2003 I worked as a Scientific Assistant at the University of Leipzig in the Animal and Behavioural Physiology group where I did my PhD on flight initiation in locusts. Since 2009 I am a Research Assistant in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol on the 3 year project “A neuronal network generating flexible locomotor behaviour in a simple vertebrate: studies on function and embryonic self-assembly” funded by the UK BBSRC.
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