Research Horizons

by Katie McIvor

Research_HorizonsThree Pembroke Fellows have been featured in this month’s Research Horizons magazine by the University of Cambridge.

Professor Chris Young, of the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages, is involved in setting up a new research centre which will connect German studies in the art, humanities and social sciences across Cambridge. The Forschungszentrum has received €1m in funding from the German Academic Exchange Service. Professor Young commented, ‘We have huge strength and depth in Germany-related research across a couple of millennia… We hope the hub will act as a beacon for the study of German culture both in the UK and worldwide.’

Dr Guillaume Hennequin is a theoretical neuroscientist based at the Department of Engineering. He contributed to recent research into the efficiency of the insect brain and its effect on behaviour. Dr Hennequin’s work focuses on the way in which brain circuits are wired to become optimised for a task. ‘If you reverse engineer an animal’s behaviour strategy by asking how an animal would solve a task under specific constraints,’ he explained, ‘and then work out the optimal solution, you’ll find it’s often the case that animals are pretty close to optimal.’ The research may provide insights into the evolution and function of brains.

Lastly, Professor Robin Franklin, based at the Wellcome Trust-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, is mentioned in connection with a new study on methods of treating spinal cord injury. Professor Franklin’s work showed that transplanting cells from the nasal cavity into the spine could help restore movement to paralysed limbs in dogs. Funding is currently being sought to carry out a trial of this landmark study in humans.