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Prof. Dr.

Mandyam V. Srinivasan

Year of election: 2017
Section: Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
City: Brisbane
Country: Australia
CV Mandyam Srinivasan - Deutsch (PDF)
CV Mandyam Srinivasan - English (PDF)

Research

Main areas of research: Biology, neurophysiology, behavioural biology, orientation, visual neuroscience

Mandyam V. Srinivasan is an Indian-born neurobiologist and behavioural scientist. He studies the behaviour of flying insects like honeybees including the ways in which they process visual stimuli. This biologist has shown how insects are able to carry out complex orientation and memory tasks despite having tiny brains that comprise only a fraction of the nerve cells found in the human brain.

Srinivasan was quick to recognize the enormous perceptual capabilities of a bee´s brain although it comprises only a million nerve cells. The small brain size does not, however, prevent the social and nectar collecting honeybees from performing extraordinarily complex feats of orientation and communication.

Srinivasan demonstrated that bees are able to find their way in labyrinths, are able to remember smells and associate them with food sources as well as to warn fellow bees of dangers. Another peculiarity of honeybees spurred the research further: These flying insects can be fed by hand and take to training. This enabled Srinivasan to show how the honeybee´s relatively small neural network functions in the carrying out of complex orientation and communication tasks.

The question of whether bees have a kind of consciousness represents another area of inquiry for this behavioural biologist. Until now it has been assumed that reflexes control insect behaviour, which means that a stimulus triggers a specific reaction. From Srinivasan’s work, there is every indication that bees could possess higher levels of perception and cognition than previously assumed.

Srinivasan’s research into the navigational capacities of honeybees has also led to the design of novel, biologically inspired algorithms for the guidance of unmanned aerial vehicles.

Career

  • Professor for visual neurosciences, Queensland Brain Institute and School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, University of Queensland, Australia
  • 1994 PhD in neuroethology, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
  • 1977 PhD in engineering and applied sciences, Yale University, USA
  • 1973 MSc in engineering and applied sciences, Yale University, USA
  • 1970 MSc in applied electronics procedure controls, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India
  • 1968 BSc in electrical engineering, Bangalore University, India

Projects

  • 2014-2017 ARC Discovery Project „Perception of pain in simple nervous systems“
  • 2014-2017 ARC Linkage Project „Strategies for mid-air collision avoidance in aircraft: lessons from bird flight“
  • 2014-2016 ARC Discovery Project „Biologically-inspired detection, pursuit and interception of moving objects by unmanned aircraft systems“
  • 2013-2016 Human Frontier Science Program Organisation Project „Visual control of flight modes and transitions in birds“
  • 2012-2019 Vice-Chancellor's Senior Research Fellowship „From flying animals to airborne machines and back“
  • 2012-2015 Boeing Defence Australia Project „Assessment and Development of bio inspired guidance navigation and control (GNC) sensors algorithms and solutions for unmanned aircraft systems“
  • 2011-2013 UQ Major Equipment and Infrastructure Project „A virtual environment for the study of multisensory learning, adaptation and control“
  • 2011-2013 ARC Discovery Project „Visual Guidance of Flight in Birds“
  • 2010-2011 UQ Major Equipment and Infrastructure Project „Zebrafish behavioural suite“
  • 2008-2009 Australian National University Project „Visual guidance of autonomous helicopters“
  • 2008 Curtin University of Technology: „Intelligent surveillance systmes for the transport industry“
  • 2007-2013 Australian National University Project „ARC Centre of Excellence in Vision Science “
  • 2007-2012 Queensland Government Smart State Premier's Fellowships „From Small Brains to Novel Aerospace Technology“
  • 2007-2009 Australian National University „CSIRO Flagship Collaboration Research Fund: Biosensor Cluster“
  • 2007 ARC Discovery Project „How do bees orchestrate smooth landings?“
  • 2006-2011 ARC Special Initiative „Thinking Systems: Navigating Through Real and Conceptual Spaces“

Honours and Memberships

  • since 2017 Member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
  • since 2014 Member of the Royal Institute of Navigation, London, UK
  • 2014 Queensland Science Championship
  • 2014 Harold Spencer-Jones Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of Navigation, London, UK
  • since 2012 Member of the Order of Australia
  • 2009 Distinguished Alumni Award of the Indian Institute of Science, India
  • 2008 U.K. Rank Award for Optoelectronics
  • since 2006 Member of the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World
  • 2006 Award of the Australian Prime Minister
  • since 2001 Member of the Royal Society, UK
  • since 1994 Member of the Australian Academy of Science

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