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The theorist with a passion for the practical

May 08, 2019: Perfect timing for Michael Kordovan – after his excellent doctorate, the young scientist is now taking the step which he had originally planned to take after his diploma studies. He has just signed his work contract with a company for industrial image processing.

The theorist with a passion for the practical

Michael Kordovan. "Click" to view full-size image.

Michael Kordovan had actually wanted to move directly into industry after completing his studies in physics. But at the end of his diploma thesis he realized just how much he enjoyed getting to the bottom of things in detail, penetrating complex topics, understanding interrelationships and making detailed theoretical predictions. This is why he decided not to leave the university world immediately and took up a PhD position at the Bernstein Center Freiburg. "I suspect that I won’t ever be able to work so intensively on a topic now as I did during my PhD studies," he says following his excellent doctorate.

He came to computational neuroscience because he wanted to work in a new field using his competences as a theorist with a physical modelling background. He was particularly interested in the modelling of brain diseases such as epilepsy or autism. In the end, Michael Kordovan did not research this straight away, but looked instead at the question of how the structure of a neural network influences its dynamics. In so doing he eventually found his final topic, even though it wasn’t clear from the outset.

This is an experience that Michael Kordovan shares with many doctoral researchers: the doctoral path is less predictable and linear than you expect. "You have to work very independently and find creative solutions. And you have to be able to live with the setbacks," he says. For example with the case of a project that was pursued at the beginning but never really picked up speed and finally got stuck in a dead end. Thus the biggest difficulty for Michael Kordovan was "finding my project in the jungle of topics. Maybe I followed the first idea for too long."

With his current level of knowledge and his increased self-confidence, the young scientist is now convinced that he should have drawn the line much earlier. "I think this is a crucial development process that you go through during your doctorate," he says. For him, this includes being able to assess things better, express his opinions to authorities or to discuss with experts on an equal footing. "I've learned that on closer inspection many things are not yet understood and require a new discourse. There are gaps everywhere and it is always worth questioning existing opinions."

When asked about what he would do differently in hindsight, the 31-year-old answers: "I went to an expert conference relatively late. I would advise everyone to do this much earlier and more often. The exchange was extremely inspiring for me and I came back with many new ideas". He would like to share this with prospective doctoral students: "Even if you think you don't have anything yet. Make a poster and go to a conference exactly on your topic in the first year. Don't wait for it to be offered to you."

Now Michael Kordovan is finally implementing his plan to switch to industry. In the future he will be working as a system developer in a company for industrial image processing. He is particularly pleased about the combination of theory and practice: "I need to have something tangible, to be able to go into the production hall and see how a product has been created from my work". The Bernstein Center Freiburg would like to wish Michael Kordovan all the best for his future career path.

Constraints on Neural Activity Imposed by the Structure of Neurons and Networks

Original Publication
Buccino AP, Kordovan M, Ness TV, Merkt B, Häfliger PD, Fyhn M, Cauwenberghs G, Rotter S, Einevoll GT Combining biophysical modeling and deep learning for multi-electrode array neuron localization and classification. Journal of Neurophysiology 120: 212-1232, 2018

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Michael Kordovan


Prof. Dr. Stefan Rotter
Professor of Computational Neuroscience
University of Freiburg
Bernstein Center Freiburg & Faculty of Biology
Hansastraße 9a
79104 Freiburg, Germany
Tel.: +49 (0)761 203 9316
E-mail: stefan.rotter@bio.uni-freiburg.de

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