Keynote Speakers

ESCBC 2023 Keynote Speakers

Daniela Vallentin, Ph.D.

RESEARCH EXPERIENCE: Daniela is a Research Group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Intelligence (since 2019) where she studies the neural mechanisms underlying song learning and vocal interactions in songbirds. The research group combines automated behavioral training paradigms with electrophysiological recordings and pharmacological approaches to uncover how vocal interactions are controlled, how they are influenced by conspecifics, and how vocalizing in a context dependent manner is regulated. She is particularly interested in how social contexts change singing behaviors of these animals. Daniela was a postdoc in the lab of Michael Long at the NYU School of medicine (2010-2016). During this time, she explored the neural underpinnings of song learning in zebra finches and discovered a mechanism by which learned song remains known whereas new song elements can still be learned. 

Giuliano Iurilli, Ph.D.

RESEARCH EXPERIENCE: How does the brain process environmental and internal information to orchestrate the most adaptive response to ongoing and incoming challenges? Giuliano began to approach this question during his graduate studies at IIT in the laboratory of Paolo Medini, where he aimed to understand better how the microcircuits of the visual cortex respond to visual deprivation and non-visual stimuli from the external environment in mice. Then, as a postdoc, he moved to the laboratory of Bob Datta at Harvard Medical School, where he gradually shifted his focus on the innate behavioral responses to sensory stimuli, specifically to olfactory stimuli, the most primordial sensory stimuli used by animals. Finally, back at IIT as a Principal Investigator, he is working with a fantastic group of talented young scientists to discover the central circuit mechanisms that coordinate an animal’s behavioral and visceral activity in anticipation of what will be coming.

Megan Carey, Ph.D.

RESEARCH EXPERIENCE: Megan is a Group Leader in the Neuroscience Program at the Champalimaud Center for the Unknown in Lisbon, Portugal. She received her PhD in 2005 from the University of California, San Francisco, where her thesis was awarded UCSF’s Krevans Distinguished Dissertation Award. After a Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellowship at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Carey started her independent laboratory at the Champalimaud. Her lab combines quantitative behavioral analysis, genetics, and physiology to understand how the brain controls learned and coordinated movements. Dr. Carey was an International Early Career Scientist of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and her lab is funded by the European Research Council. She serves on the Board of Reviewing Editors for eLife and the Board of Directors of the Society for the Neural Control of Movement and the ALBA Network for Equity and Diversity in Brain Sciences. She has co-Chaired the Gordon Research Conference on the Cerebellum, COSYNE, and the FENS-Cajal summer course on the Behavior of Neural Systems. Dr. Carey has taken on broader leadership roles within Europe as the Chair of the FENS Kavli Network of Excellence (a network of early-mid career European neuroscience PIs), and as a high-level policy advisor to the European Commissioner for Research & Innovation.

Carlos Ribeiro, Ph.D.

RESEARCH EXPERIENCE: Carlos is Principal Investigator at the Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme in Lisbon, Portugal. He was born in Basel, Switzerland, from immigrant parents, and performed his PhD in the lab of Markus Affolter in the Biozentrum of the University of Basel, where he pioneered the use of in vivo imaging to study the molecular and cellular mechanisms used to sculpt the tubular breathing network of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. For his postdoc he joined the lab of Barry Dickson at the IMP in Vienna, Austria, where he first worked on embryonic axon guidance. Witnessing the power of Drosophila neurogenetics in furthering our understanding of the molecular and cellular basis of behaviour, he became interested in decision-making and nutrition in the adult fruit fly. In 2009, he moved to Lisbon to join the newly founded Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme. Carlos’ lab at the Champalimaud Foundation works at the interface of neuronal circuits, behaviour, metabolism, microbiome, and physiology to discover and characterise conserved mechanisms regulating how organisms decide what to eat and how these decisions affect their health and wellbeing. The lab therefore strives for an integrated, whole-animal understanding of how nutrition affects the behaviour of the animal in the context of its fitness.