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Berlin as a hub of neuroscience research

Interview with Otto Hahn Medal Winner Daniel Margulies

Coming from New York, why did you choose the Berlin School of Mind and Brain for your doctorate?
While visiting Berlin in 2007, I met someone at a bar who recommended the graduate school to me. The flexibility of the program − that I could pursue a diverse line of research, ranging from the arts to psychoanalysis, while also having the support to continue with neuroscience − was my ultimate motivation for applying. In addition, Berlin has become a hub of neuroscience research with ample opportunities for collaboration and access to resources.

Did the school’s doctoral program meet your needs?
The students and faculties involved in the program range in interests from philosophy and linguistics to psychology, neurology and psychiatry. Whatever my specific research topics were, dialogues were always able to extend beyond the scope of a single discipline. In addition, the program was remarkably supportive of interdisciplinary projects and workshops. I came from a working environment in New York where if you asked for something − say, something as simple as a whiteboard − you would likely be dismissed with: »We’ll see what we can do.« It was a wonderful surprise for me to find out that when people gave the same reply here, they actually meant it.

You’ve just won the Otto Hahn Medal for your doctoral thesis. What are you doing now?
I spend most of my time at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, and will be starting up my own group investigating the organization of the prefrontal cortex next autumn. Otherwise, I’m still trying desperately to learn German – so between issues of word order and the mysteries of the brain, I don’t imagine getting bored anytime soon.

Berlin School of Mind and Brain
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Luisenstraße 56
10117 Berlin
Phone: +49 30 2093-1707