Creating the Future
© Dennis Reimann

Light in Biology

Sympo­sium 2023

Berlin — On July 6, 2023, the sympo­sium of the Hector Fellow Academy 2023 entitled "Light in Biology — Photo­syn­the­sis, Visual Processes and Neuronal Appli­ca­tions" took place at the Langen­beck-Virchow-Haus Berlin and via livestream. Numer­ous inter­ested guests on site and via livestream had the oppor­tu­nity to immerse themselves in the fasci­nat­ing world of light and to learn about its multi­ple signif­i­cance in biology and science.

Without light, life on our planet would be unimag­in­able. Sunlight enables humans and animals to perceive their surround­ings in color and is essen­tial for plant growth. The funda­men­tal impor­tance of light and its multi­fac­eted role in various life processes became clear during the outstand­ing lectures of renowned speak­ers on photo­syn­the­sis, evolu­tion and biodi­ver­sity research, and its appli­ca­tion in neuroscience.

Athina Zouni (Insti­tute of Biology, Humboldt-Univer­sität zu Berlin) led into the adven­ture of photo­syn­the­sis and talked about which approaches and mecha­nisms of photo­syn­the­sis could play a role in the near future with regard to energy supply.

Lauren Sumner-Rooney (Museum für Naturkunde Berlin) demon­strated the amazing variety of visual systems that evolu­tion has devel­oped in the animal world and talked about animals that have no eyes but can still perceive their environ­ment, e.g. with the help of photoreceptors.

Hannah Monyer (Heidel­berg Univer­sity Hospi­tal and German Cancer Research Center), one of the leading inter­na­tional scien­tists in the field of brain research, explored with the audience the state-of-the-art appli­ca­tions of light in the field of neuro­science. She explained how optoge­net­ics, which uses light to manip­u­late and study neural circuits, offers new ways to better under­stand brain function and memory.

The scien­tific organizer and host of the evening was Peter Hegemann, Profes­sor of Exper­i­men­tal Biophysics and Hertie Senior Profes­sor of Neuro­science at Humboldt-Univer­sität zu Berlin. He is a world-renowned photo­bi­ol­o­gist and co-founder of optoge­net­ics. The moder­a­tor of the evening was Dr. Philip Häusser, known as a TV presen­ter for programs such as Terra X Lesch & Co and author. The welcom­ing words were spoken by Marc Erhardt, Execu­tive Direc­tor of the Insti­tute of Biology at Humboldt Univer­sity in Berlin. Finally, Judith Elsner, Execu­tive Direc­tor of the Hector Fellow Academy, thanked all those present for their support, their partic­i­pa­tion and their inter­est in the event. Cooper­a­tion partners for the event were the Humboldt-Univer­sität zu Berlin and the Museum für Naturkunde.

The event contin­ues the series of symposia held by the Hector Fellow Academy through­out Germany. Here, renowned experts present current research topics in a gener­ally under­stand­able way and discuss visions for the future. The Hector Fellow Academy is a young academy of science that promotes cutting-edge inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research in the STEM fields.

The next sympo­sium will be held in Hamburg on July 11, 2024, and will explore the question "Why do children learn differ­ently from adults?" The scien­tific organizer is Brigitte Röder, Profes­sor of Biolog­i­cal Psychol­ogy and Neuropsy­chol­ogy at the Univer­sity of Hamburg.

Download flyer Light in Biology| HFA Sympo­sium 2023

Dr. Philip Häusser

TV Presen­ter and Author

Light in Biology

Photo­syn­the­sis, Visual Processes and Neuronal Applications

Athina Zouni, Lauren Sumner-Rooney and Hannah Monyer allow the audience to immerse themselves in the fasci­nat­ing world of light and explain its multi­ple impor­tance in biology, science and for life on our planet.


Image Gallery


Scien­tific talks

Prof. Dr.

Athina Zouni


Humboldt-Univer­sität zu Berlin, Insti­tut of Biology

Prof. Dr.

Hannah Monyer

Neurowis­senschaften, Gedächtnisforschung

Univer­sität­sklinikum Heidel­berg und Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum


Lauren Sumner-Rooney

Biology, Evolu­tion and Biodiversity

Museum für Naturkunde, Leibniz Insti­tute for Evolu­tion and Biodi­ver­sity Science