Dr. Bettina Schnell leads new independent research group
On September 1st, Dr. Bettina Schnell joined caesar as head of the research group “Neurobiology of Flight Control”. The research will be funded by a grant from the Emmy Noether program of the DFG. Studying fruit flies as model organisms, her research aims at discovering the neuronal mechanisms, which allow animals to navigate.
Bonn, September 2017. Bettina Schnell will build up a new independent group funded by a research grant from the Emmy Noether program of the DFG. Dr. Schnell seeks to identify the neural circuits and mechanisms, which allow animals to execute steering maneuvers during flight. Fruit flies or Drosophila melanogaster serve as model organisms, from which the scientist can record behavioral and neuronal activity simultaneously. Dr. Schnell and fellow scientists have thus discovered a previously unknown descending neuron. This neuron plays a key role in controlling turns during flight. Such turns may come spontaneously or as a reaction to a visual stimulus. In both cases, the descending neuron sends commands from the brain to the motor system which enable the fly to navigate.
Her current research builds upon Dr. Schnell’s past experience in the field of neurobiology. Bettina Schnell studied biology at the University of Würzburg, Germany, received her PhD degree from the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, Munich, Germany where she remained as a postdoc until 2011. Subsequently, Dr. Schnell undertook further postdoctoral research at the University of Washington, Seattle, USA.
Dr. Schnell’s research relies on a variety of state-of-the-art techniques. She employs the simultaneous recording of neuronal activity with electrophysiological and optical methods as well as behavioral parameters such as wing movements. In addition, genetic manipulations in the fruit fly enable her to single out individual neurons and pin down their functionality. Scientists working in other research groups at caesar study complex behaviors in a variety of species, which serves as the basis for fruitful interdisciplinary cooperations and mutual inspiration.