Interview with Li Zhaoping

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Li Zhaoping has recently taken up a professorship in Computational Neuroscience at the University of Tuebingen. She will also conduct research at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, where she is a fellow. Li Zhaoping’s research focus is on sensory systems. She is internationally acclaimed for a ground-breaking theory on visual attention. She is investigating how the brain receives sensory input and how visions and olfaction are processed in order to make decisions. She employs theoretical modeling, and experimental methods, including information theory, nonlinear dynamics, human psychophysics, functional magnetic resonance imaging, and electrophysiology to understand the brain.

Li Zhaoping studied Physics in Shanghai and received her PhD from the California Institute of Technology. After research stays in the US and Hong Kong, she co-founded the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit in London.


Li Zhaping Cora Kuerner MPI for Biologicla Cybernetics 2


3 questions to Li Zhaoping

Why did you choose to come to Tuebingen to continue your research?

Tuebingen has a superb reputation for being an excellent university town, with hundreds of years of intellectual tradition. Hence, it is wonderful to be part of this community. In my field of study, neuroscience and brain science, there is great strength both in the university as well as the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics. It is thus very attractive for me to move my research here.

How can the collaboration between the different research institutions in the city benefit your research focus?

My research field is intrinsically interdisciplinary. To understand how the brain works, one needs both theoretical and experimental approaches: physiologically and anatomically, one examines neurons and neural circuits; behaviorally, one examines perception, cognition, and motor control; theoretically one makes hypotheses and models of the computational principles and algorithms to explain brain's intelligent behavior in terms of mechanisms of the neural hardware. Coming from a physics background, I have been conducting my research projects using all these approaches, often by collaborations with colleagues from different backgrounds and hence from different research institutions. Collaboration is not only productive research-wise, it is also great for me to learn from my colleagues' experience and expertise.

What are your impressions of Tuebingen thus far?

The colleagues here are very friendly to help us settle in, and there is an admirable sense of community. I enjoy working across the University of Tuebingen and the Max Planck Campus. Coming from London, I find Tuebingen quieter and greener, and I am still trying to find an excellent Shanghainese restaurant.


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