We are proud to welcome our new members. Read on to learn about their research expertise, their motivations and what they love about Zurich.
Name and Surname: Emily S. Cross
Position: Professor of Cognitive and Social Neuroscience
Institute: Department of Humanities, Social & Political Sciences, ETH Zurich
Research focus: My team’s research is carried out at the intersection of human neuroscience, the arts, and social robotics. We focus on how prior experiences, expectations and learning shape how we perceive and interact with the different kinds of agents (human or artificial) we encounter in a social world.
Last professional stations: Professor of Social Robotics at the School of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Glasgow, UK and Professor of Human Neuroscience at the MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development, University of Western Sydney, Australia
My motivation to do my research: I am curious to explore the limits of just how malleable the human brain is, especially when engaging with social technologies, just as I am motivated to understand how and why we derive pleasure from engaging with the arts. The opportunity to forge collaborative networks across neuroscience, robotics and the arts is also something I find both motivating and rewarding.
My insider tip for Zurich: My group is based in a building one street away from the Limmat, and several of us are committed to going for at least a brief dip in the Limmat every week of the year. This is admittedly a much more attractive prospect in the summer, but if you fancy exploring cold water cognition with us, you are very welcome to join!
First Name and Surname: Shuting Han
Position: SNSF Ambizione Group Leader
Institute: Brain Research Institute, University of Zurich
Research focus: My research aims at understanding how our internal models of the world are represented in the brain. In particular, I focus on studying spontaneous activity in the cortex of mice, especially during memory processes. We use a wide range of techniques to study this question, including two-photon imaging, virtual reality, and machine learning.
Last professional station: I did my PhD in Columbia University, New York, USA. Prior to my Ambizione group, I was a postdoc at the Brain Research Institute in UZH.
My motivation to do my research: From brain activity to societal phenomena, I enjoy finding the underlying rules and patterns of seemingly incomprehensible observations. I pursued neuroscience because I am deeply attracted to the extraordinary abilities and complexity of cognition. I am always searching for the fundamental principles of how our mind works.
My insider tip for Zurich: Enjoy the best railway system in the world and take a day trip to the breathtaking Alps. Alternatively, explore the diverse art scenes in Zurich, including both timeless classics and raw underground expressions that mirror our contemporary world.
First Name and Surname: Sara Liane Kroll
Position: Junior Research Group Leader of the “Social and Affective Neuropsychopharmacology (SANPP)” lab
Institute: Department of Adult Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich
Research focus: I am interested in psychological and neurobiological mechanisms underpinning substance use disorder, specifically focused on stress and social functioning, with the long-term goal to improve prevention as well as treatment outcomes of substance use disorders. My current research focuses on identifying individual differences in sensitivity to acute opioid drug effects on social and affective processing contributing to the vulnerability of development and maintenance of opioid use disorder.
Last professional station: Postdoc at the Experimental and Clinical Pharmacopsychology lab, Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich, University of Zurich, Switzerland; at the Center for Social and Affective Neuroscience, Linköping University, Sweden; and at the Leknes Affective Brain Lab, University of Oslo, Norway
My motivation to do my research: My fascination with the opioid system started during my PhD when I learned about the “Brain Opioid Theory of Social Attachment” by Jaak Panksepp. I am eager to better understand this system and its link to social and affective processes in humans with the long-term goal to prevent and improve treatment outcomes of opioid use disorder.
My insider tip for Zurich: I recommend running or walking along the “Pfadiweg” and “Elefantenbach” (yes, you will see a huge elephant) after a long day in the lab. Being in the forest will help you recover from work and will energize your brain. For the walk, grab the best coffee in town at Vicafé at Bellevue (or at Hegifred at the Kreuzplatz). Enjoy!
First Name and Surname: Paul Sauseng
Position: Professor, Head of Neuropsychology and Cognitive Neuroscience
Institute: Department of Psychology, University Zurich
Research focus: My team and I are interested in how the brain controls and coordinates higher cognitive functions such as working memory, attention, action and perception. To study these processes, we record electrical brain activity in humans and use non-invasive brain stimulation techniques.
Last professional station: Department of Psychology, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich
My motivation to do my research: When doing research, I constantly learn something new. Then, I feel like a child exploring the world. That is very exciting. Moreover, all my research is a collaborative effort – and I absolutely love working together with my team.
My insider tip for Zurich: When newly moving to Zurich better bring a tent.
First Name and Surname: Sebastian Sauppe
Position: : Leader of the research area “Cognitive and Developmental Neuroscience of Language“ (embedded in the Developmental Psychology: Infancy and Childhood research unit)
Institute: Department of Psychology, University of Zurich
Research focus: I research the interface between the cognitive and developmental neuroscience of language and linguistic diversity, focusing on how language processing mechanisms are implemented in the brain through neural oscillatory activity, how these mechanisms develop throughout childhood, and how they are adapted to the grammatical differences between languages. I’m also interested in how language and event cognition interact.
Last professional station: Postdoc, Department of Comparative Language Science, UZH
My motivation to do my research: Using language and speaking often appear to be the most mundane activities, but there is an incredible amount of brain power that goes into this amazing skill. I am fascinated by unravelling how it is possible that we can communicate and interact with each other by basically sending some waves of air pressure around. I am also fascinated by how diverse human cultures and languages are and try to contribute to unravelling how the brain and cognition are affected by this diversity (before it is lost).
My insider tip for Zurich: Wirtschaft Ziegelhütte (https://wirtschaft-ziegelhuette.ch), wonderful, high quality and seasonal food, best is to take a walk across Zürichberg from the zoo or from Bahnhof Stettbach to get there
First Name and Surname: Bettina Balint
Position: : Assistant Professor for Clinical Research on Complex Movement Disorders and Parkinson’s Disease; Head of the Department of Movement Disorders; Co-Lead Centre for Movement Disorders and Functional Neurosurgery
Institute: Department of Neurology, University Hospital Zurich
Research focus: I have a special interest in clinical and collaborative, translational research into rare (genetic or autoimmune) movement disorders.
Last professional station: Department of Neurology, University Hospital Heidelberg, Germany
My motivation to do my research: On the one hand, there is an urgent clinical need to facilitate faster diagnosis and better treatment approaches for patients with rare movement disorders. On the other hand, rare diseases can be a window of opportunity to better understand more common diseases, or even the physiological state, when a distinct molecular mechanism is discovered.
My insider tip for Zurich: Not sure about how “insider”, but: the Caliente Music festival for those who love Latin music and culture; Bruno Weber Park – reminds me of Parque Güell; the Zurich Succulent Plant Collection – unique, aesthetically pleasing and very informative; Limmat-Böötli.
Contact: Bettina Balint Prof. Dr. med. – USZ