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A constant thirst for new knowledge

May 22, 2019: This was a major reason why Benjamin Merkt decided to write a doctoral thesis. Now he is among those who have successfully completed their dissertation and is pleased that everything turned out so well. Congratulations!

A constant thirst for new knowledge

Benjamin Merkt. "Click" to view full-size image.


Even at the beginning of his studies, he knew that he eventually wanted to work in business. But during his thesis, Benjamin Merkt noticed how much he enjoyed working scientifically. That's why he decided to do his doctorate. His main motivation: an insatiable hunger for learning. "You simply have the time to dive really deep into a topic," says Benjamin Merkt.

Even while he was studying for his diploma thesis in physics he had a connection to biological topics. To describe something mathematically, to model, to analyse data – that is what Benjamin Merkt is most enthusiastic about. At the same time, it was important for him to develop himself further. Because of his fascination with the brain and its complexity Benjamin Merkt came to the Bernstein Center Freiburg.

More precisely, the physicist decided to research the complex signal flow in layered networks of neocortex. The luckiest moment for Benjamin Merkt was when his colleague, Michael Kordovan, drew his attention to a particular publication. “There was a period during my PhD, when I was working on different projects and this paper helped me to solve a central issue in one of these projects.”

Like many of his Phd colleagues, Benjamin Merkt faced the challenge at the beginning of his doctorate, “to find the one approach which actually makes the idea work out of all the many possible research approaches available.” This takes trial and error and stamina. But Benjamin Merkt saw it through to the end. In retrospect, however, he would recommend: “Before you dive deeply into a project, make yourself aware of your expectations and the expected outcome of the work early on, for example try to get or to develop a hypothesis at the very beginning which gives you some orientation.”

When asked how Benjamin Merkt would sum up his time at the Bernstein Center Freiburg, he replies: "I have really enjoyed my work. Particularly, the diversity I experienced has been very enriching. Many topics are dealt with in different working groups. People from all over the world and with very different professional backgrounds share an office. This way you automatically exchange ideas beyond your own horizons."

Now Benjamin Merkt wants to switch to working in industry. He is not particularly fixed on a specific branch. "But it has to be something tangible, a physical-technical product," he says emphatically. Just working purely with statistics wouldn't be enough for him. The Bernstein Center Freiburg wishes Benjamin Merkt all the best and every success in the future!

Promotion
On the Measurement and Analysis of Neuronal Subpopulation Activity
 

Original Publication
Merkt B, Schüßler F, Rotter S. Propagation of orientation selectivity in a spiking network model of layered primary visual cortex. PLOS Computational Biology, 2019.

https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1007080

Read also
Disentangling the complex signal flow in layered networks of neocortex

Contact
Benjamin Merkt

via
Prof. Dr. Stefan Rotter
Professor of Computational Neuroscience
University of Freiburg
Bernstein Center Freiburg and
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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