The first of its kind in uniting Universities and Max Planck Institutions on both sides of the Atlantic, the International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS) for Brain and Behavior offers a competitive world-class Ph.D. training and research program. In this series, we are learning more about the scientists who make up our IMPRS Brain and Behavior faculty, and get an idea of what it’s like to be a part of their labs.
Dr. Salil Bidaye
Research Group Leader, Max Planck Florida Institute for NeuroscienceWhat’s going on in your lab that you are most excited about?
By precise genetic targeting of central command neurons of the fruit-fly, we can essentially “remote-control” a freely moving fly and make it move in a particular direction, as one would control a toy car! Yes, it is indeed as cool as it sounds! But more importantly, these initial discoveries have laid the foundation for addressing fundamental problems in motor control research using the fruit-fly as a model system. We are now using these tools to peek into the fly’s brain as the fly literally decides its next steps. Combining cutting edge techniques like multiphoton imaging, behavioral quantification and neurogenetics, we are characterizing locomotor decisions at a neuronal resolution.
How would you describe the culture and environment of your lab?
Our lab aims to build an inclusive environment where every member will be credited fairly for their work. Lab members are expected to work as a part of a team, but at the same time everyone will be given the freedom to pursue their own ideas. Any idea for an experiment/hypothesis will be discussed thoroughly during lab meetings. In fact, open and collaborative exchange of ideas is the cornerstone of our lab culture.
Furthermore, career development of the graduate students is of utmost importance to us and we will provide the necessary training and mentoring towards this goal. Each student will attend workshops and conferences for building their skills and priming them for their future goals. We strongly believe that the success of the lab depends on the success of the trainees.
Lastly, we acknowledge the exceptional hurdles faced by immigrants and underrepresented members and we will provide the extra support required to get you settled in at MPFI.
What do people in your lab do for fun?
There will be lab activities including holiday dinners and lab retreats. But during my own graduate school days, the most relaxing and memorable experiences happened during spontaneous fun activities. So, if you join us, you should be prepared for plenty of spontaneous coffee hours, beer hours, lunches and dinners during the week. The lab members are also strongly encouraged to participate in fitness/wellness activities.
What advice do you have for prospective grad students?
For most of you, graduate school will be the first “real” independent research that you will undertake. In the current times, it is easy to get bogged down by all the buzz around hardships one endures as a graduate student. But you should not overlook the fact that this is where you will be given exceptional creative freedom that very few other opportunities can offer. Some of the most daring and novel ideas in science originate from fearless graduate students. I encourage you to embrace this opportunity and chose a place where you will be provided with a nurturing environment to pursue your most audacious ideas.
Learn more about education opportunities through IMPRS Brain and Behavior, please visit https://www.imprs-brain-behavior.org/
To learn more about the Bidaye lab, visit https://mpfi.org/science/our-labs/bidaye-lab/