Skip to main contentSkip to breadcrumbsSkip to sub navSkip to doormat


Award of Excellence for Annika Nichols

06 Dec 2018

The Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research has presented an Award of Excellence to Annika Nichols, a former VBC PhD-student in the lab of Manuel Zimmer, for her outstanding dissertation on the neurobiology of sleep.

Every year in December, the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research honors the authors of the forty most impressive dissertations that were submitted to Austrian universities during the previous academic year. The Awards of Excellence were installed in 2008 as a signal of appreciation and support for young scientists in Austria. The nominees are selected by the respective universities. The national awards come with a prize money of 3000 Euros each. 

Watching entire brains fall asleep

Annika Nichols was an IMP student in the Vienna BioCenter PhD Programme and received her doctorate from the University of Vienna in May 2018. For her thesis “Circuit mechanisms and neuroendocrine control of a sleep-like brain state in C. elegans” she studied sleep behavior in C. elegans worms under the supervision of Manuel Zimmer. Adapting a whole-brain calcium imaging technique that was developed at the IMP, she was able to observe for the first time and at single cell resolution entire brains switching between sleep and wakefulness.

The study was published in Science in June 2017 and has already won her a number of distinctions. In March 2018, Annika received the Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award, in October she was presented with the Kirsten Peter Rabitsch Award and in November with the Vienna BioCenter PhD Award. Currently, Annika is an EMBO postdoc in the lab of Alex Schier at Harvard University. 

More about the Zimmer lab

Lab webpages of the Zimmer Group

Further reading

A global brain state underlies C. elegans sleep behavior. Annika L. A. Nichols, Tomáš Eichler, Richard Latham, Manuel Zimmer. Science 356, 23 June 2017. (Press Release here)

About the VBC PhD Programme

Annika Nichols completed her thesis as a VBC PhD student in the Zimmer-lab at the IMP. Are you interested in a world-class career in molecular biology? Find out more about VBC training opportunities at: