Year of Honorary Fellowship, 2011
Professor Bill Hansson works in organismic & evolutionary biology and is a specialist in insect behavioural neurobiology. His main area of interest has always been the insect sense of olfaction; its function, anatomy and evolution.
In his earliest work, Hansson dissected the insect peripheral olfactory system. Having concluded his PhD work, Hansson went for a post doctorate period in the laboratory of John Hildebrand in Tucson, Arizona. There, he learned to work with intracellular methods in the central nervous system of insects.
During the following 10 years, Hansson worked on establishing a group in olfactory neuroethology at Lund University in Sweden. In the mid 1990’s Hansson was the first to develop imaging of calcium dynamics in the moth brain in a collaborative project with a group in Berlin. By using imaging he could reveal the topographical activity patterns elicited in the antennal lobe by different odor stimuli.
In 2006 Hansson attracted a major, ten year grant of one million euros per year to study modulation in the insect olfactory system at different time scales: Insect chemical ecology, ethology and evolution. At the same time Hansson got the call for a Max Planck directorship at the Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany. Here he was provided with ample resources to set up a research department in evolutionary neuroethology, presently encompassing ca. 60 collaborators. He chose two main experimental animals; the fruit fly and the hawk moth. Beyond these, he also continued his comparative studies to elucidate the evolution of arthropod olfaction. His studies have resulted in more than 200 publications, out of which a number are published in high ranking journals.