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ERC Consolidator Grant to insect brain mapping

Photo collage of a man and a silverfish.
Stanley Heinze and his team will map the brains of for example silverfish, bees, grasshoppers, and butterflies. Photo: Johan Joelsson and Rene Sylvestersen, Wikimedia Commons

NanoLundian Stanley Heinze gets an ERC Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council, for creating a deeper understanding of the insect brain.

Stanley Heinze, Principal investigator at NanoLund and researcher at the Department of Biology, will study insect brains and their neural circuitry. His project is about trying to find clues in a specific part of the brain that controls the behavior of buzzing animals and how this part developed over 450 million years of evolution. Why, for example, does an ant decide to wander into your house instead of exploring your garden? Or why does the ladybird choose to perch on your hand on a balmy summer evening?

In total, Stanley Heinze, along with two Ph.D. students and two postdocs, will map the brains of 18 insect species. These include silverfish, bees, grasshoppers, and butterflies. By first examining the entire brains of around 100 insect species, it will then be possible to go in and study the behavioral part of the 18 selected species.

Decisions are driven by cells in our extremely complex brains.

“With a deeper understanding of insect decision-making, we can eventually understand how this might be applicable to humans. Whether you want to go to an anthill or a shopping mall, decisions are driven by cells in our extremely complex brains,” says Stanley Heinze.

ERC Consolidator Grants (CoG) are being rewarded after calls for proposals once a year. The intention is to fund researchers 7–12 years after their Ph. D. The funding is €2 million for 5 years, which is sufficient for the lead researcher and team. The applicants are from all over the world but with a host institution in the EU. This year, 313 researchers shared a total of €632 million. At Lund University, a total of three scholars got the grant this year: Stanley Heinze, Anna Runemark, and Alexander Pietras.  

About the ERC Consolidator Grant