QBI Neuroscientist wins Coveted UK Science Prize

20 Jul 2007

The Queensland Brain Institute’s Head of Visual Neuroscience, Professor Mandyam Srinivasan, has been recognised with the 2008 Rank Prize for Optoelectronics.

The discipline of optoelectronics is described as the inter-face between optics and electronics and nearly related phenomena.

The Rank Prize Funds is a UK-based organisation established in the 1970s by Lord and Lady Rank, who owned Rank Picture Films and Rank Xerox.

The group funds symposia and awards prizes in the areas of animal and human nutrition, crop husbandry and optoelectronics.

“It was an unexpected and pleasant surprise,” Professor Srinivasan said.

Professor Mandyam Srinivasan moved to the University of Queensland in January 2007 to take up a Professorship in Visual Neuroscience at the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI).

Before coming to UQ, Professor Srinivasan headed a 20-strong team at the Australian National University, where – over more than two decades – his laboratory produced some 180 papers, including 21 in high-impact journal articles in publications such as Nature, Science, and Current Biology.

Professor Srinivasan came to Australia from the University of Zurich in 1985 to research honeybee vision. What started as a one-person operation – where he did the beekeeping, designed and ran the experiments, analysed and interpreted the data, and wrote the papers – has now become a multi-disciplinary team that is the focus of widespread national- and international attention.

By studying the behaviour of small animals, such as insects, Professor Srinivasan and his colleagues have demonstrated that many relatively simple nervous systems nevertheless display a rich behavioural repertoire. The Srinivasan laboratory seeks to elucidate principles of flight control and navigation, and to explore the limits of the 'cognitive' capacities of small brains.

An understanding of visual processing in insects may provide simple, novel solutions to problems in machine vision and artificial intelligence. Thus, another focus of Srinivasan laboratory is the design of biologically inspired algorithms for 'seeing' machines, and the development of autonomously navigating robots.

In October 2006, Professor Srinivasan was recognised with the Australian Prime Minister's Prize for Science.

For information about the Rank Prize Funds visit www.rankprize.org/news1.htm

Professor Mandyam Srinivasan FAA, FRS is an inaugural Australian Federation Fellow.

You’ll find more information about Professor Srinivasan and visual neuroscience science on the Queensland Brain Institute website.

Media enquiries: QBI Communications 61-7-3346 6414