Essays on Science and Society

2003 Grand Prize Winner

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Science  31 Oct 2003:
Vol. 302, Issue 5646, pp. 801
DOI: 10.1126/science.302.5646.801

Michael Ehlers grew up in Grand Island, Nebraska, and earned his bachelor's degree in chemistry from Caltech in 1991. He went on to the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he was awarded M.D. and Ph.D. degrees in 1998 and where he also conducted postdoctoral research. Dr. Ehlers is currently assistant professor of Neurobiology and director of the Neuroproteomics Laboratory at Duke University. His research focuses on the interface between neuronal cell biology and the plasticity of neural circuits, with emphasis on protein trafficking and turnover mechanisms in dendrites. He has won several other awards in neuroscience and is a Scholar of the Ruth K. Broad Foundation.

Michael Ehlers

Karel Svoboda, for his essay “Imaging Experience-Dependent Synaptic Plasticity in the Adult Neocortex in Vivo.” Dr. Svoboda grew up in the Czech Republic and Germany and received his bachelor's degree in physics from Cornell University in 1994. As a graduate student in biophysics at Harvard University, he measured the tiny steps and forces produced by individual kinesin molecules. After being awarded his Ph.D. in 1994, he pursued postdoctoral work at Bell Laboratories, where his interests shifted to synaptic and dendritic function and plasticity. Dr. Svoboda started his own laboratory at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 1997. Work in his laboratory focuses on experience-and activity-dependent plasticity in the cortex, probed with imaging, physiological, and molecular tools.

Satchin Panda, for his essay “Shedding Light on Non-Image-Forming Photoperception in Mammals.” Dr. Panda was born and raised in India, where he earned his bachelor's degree in plant biology from Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology. He joined the graduate program at the Scripps Research Institute, where he studied the circadian oscillator mechanism in plants in the laboratory of Dr. Steve Kay. Since receiving his Ph.D. in 2001, he has pursued postdoctoral research in Dr. John Hogenesch's lab at the Genomics Institute of Novartis Research Foundation, San Diego. Here he uses genetic and genomic approaches to gain an understanding of the light input pathway and of circadian regulation of behavior and physiology in mammals.

Rudolf Cardinal, for his essay “Succumbing to Instant Gratification Without the Nucleus Accumbens.” Dr. Cardinal was born in Norwich, UK, and grew up in Folkestone, UK. He studied medical sciences and neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, where he received his bachelor's degree in 1996 and then pursued intercalated courses in clinical medicine and surgery with a Ph.D. in behavioral neuroscience, supervised by Prof. Barry Everitt. He was awarded his MB BChir Ph.D. in 2001. His Ph.D. thesis examined the neuropsychology of reinforcement processes, including the contribution of the anterior cingulate cortex to Pavlovian conditioning and the neuroanatomy of impulsive choice. After qualifying, he worked as a house physician and surgeon in East Anglian hospitals and is now a neuroscience lecturer at Cambridge.

For the full text of essays by the finalists and for information about applying for next year's awards, see Science Online at


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