WASHINGTON, DC — The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) will present the Young Investigator Award to Ed Boyden, PhD, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Nachum Ulanovksy, PhD, of the Weizmann Institute of Science. Established in 1983 and supported by AstraZeneca, the $15,000 award recognizes the outstanding achievements and contributions by a young neuroscientist who has recently received his or her advanced professional degree. The award will be presented during Neuroscience 2015, SfN’s annual meeting and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.

“Drs. Ulanovsky and Boyden are both trailblazers in their respective areas of neuroscience,” SfN President Steven Hyman said. “Their ingenuity and rigor are invaluable to the field, and their pioneering discoveries are now advancing science even further. I am sure that we can expect great work from these two scientists for many years to come.”

As a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Maryland, Ulanovsky was the first to record neural activity in a freely moving bat. By doing so, he was able to investigate how cells in the hippocampus — a brain region important for spatial navigation and memory — encode a spatial representation of the three-dimensional environment. He has continued this line of research as an associate professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, where his lab develops novel devices for wireless electrophysiology.

Boyden is a pioneer in the field of optogenetics, which uses light to activate or suppress neural activity. Optogenetic tools have given researchers the ability to control neural activity with more precision than ever before. Boyden began this line of work during his postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University, and he has continued building upon these techniques as an associate professor at MIT, where his lab recently demonstrated the feasibility of a new optogenetic tool for use in primates.

The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) is an organization of nearly 40,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and nervous system.