What is this seminar series about?

Almost all animals forage for food, and must balance the costs of exploring their surroundings with the potential benefits of finding resources for survival. Even when a foraging animal finds food, it has to decide whether to stay and feed or continue searching for a better option. This decision depends on the quality of the resource and the animal’s current state. Such foraging behaviors are studied in many different model and non-model animals, ranging from C. elegans to macaques, as well as in humans. Furthermore, recent research has shed light on some elements of the neural and theoretical underpinnings of foraging. However, unifying principles and a mechanistic basis of embodied cognitive processes involved in foraging are still lacking.

This virtual seminar series is aimed to bring together neuroscientists, theorists, ecologists, and neuro-economists interested in exploring neural and theoretical mechanisms of foraging across multiple species.

Who are we?

We are a group of PhD students and postdocs from Champalimaud Research and HHMI Janelia.

I'm currently a postdoc in the Dudman lab at HHMI Janelia, and I'm interested in how the basal ganglia interacts with other brain structures to help mice learn about and exploit complex environments. Before moving to Virginia I was in Oxford, where my PhD work focused on how mesolimbic dopamine is shaped by action. In my spare time I enjoy painting and playing videogames.

I'm a Neuroscience PhD student working in the Behavior & Metabolism Lab at Champalimaud Research. I'm currently studying how fruit flies adapt foraging decisions with respect to their nutrient needs. Born and raised in Northern Germany, I studied Physics at the University of Göttingen, where I got fascinated with brains and living complex systems. After a master in Neural Systems & Computation at the ETH/University Zurich, I joined the International Neuroscience Doctoral Programme at the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown in 2016.

Dennis Goldschmidt

I’m a neuroscientist interested in understanding how animals orient and navigate in complex naturalistic environments. Currently, as a postdoc in the Jayaraman lab at HHMI Janelia, I investigate how environmental context and past experiences shape navigation in walking fruit flies. To do this, I combine virtual reality techniques and two-photon calcium imaging with connectomic analysis as well as behavioral studies and modeling. Previous projects focused on different aspects of navigation in adult and larval fruit flies as well as crickets. In my free time I enjoy sewing and observing animals.

Originally from Germany, I first studied biomedicine at the University of Würzburg, before transitioning to a masters in Computational Biology and Bioinformatics at the ETH/University Zurich. For my PhD I worked with Berthold Hedwig at the University of Cambridge and Vivek Jayaraman at HHMI Janelia as part of a joint graduate program.

I’m relatively new to the world of neuroscience, having begun my PhD at Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown in late 2020. I’ve always been fascinated by watching animals in the wild, and my quest to understand what mechanistically drives the dazzling diversity of behaviour has led me from a masters in Evolution, Ecology and Systematics at LMU Munich, to the lab of Carlos Ribeiro at CCU. I am interested in how organisms have evolved mechanisms to make short and long term predictions of future internal and external conditions, to better coordinate their behaviour, and I’m looking forward to investigating this in the coming years.