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The Kristine Bonnevie lectures 2019: Nobel Prize-winners Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard and May-Britt Moser

The two speakers at the Kristine Bonnevie lectures for 2019 will be the German developmental biologist and Nobel Prize-winner Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, and the Norwegian neuroscientist and Nobel Prize-winner May-Britt Moser. Moser's lecture will be a multimedia concert lecture together with the Trondheim Soloists. This event is part of the University of Oslo's Annual Festivities 2019.


The event will take place in the University Aula!

See the full program for the University of Oslo's annual festivities. (in Norwegian)

Program for the Kristine Bonnevie lectures

Opening remarks
Svein Stølen, Rector, University of Oslo

Animal beauty – function and evolution of biological aesthetics
Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, Max-Planck-Institute for Developmental Biology, Tübingen, Germany

A deep-dive into the brain
May-Britt Moser, Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience, NTNU, Trondheim, Norway
A multimedia concert lecture together with the Trondheim Soloists

Closing remarks
Nils Chr. Stenseth, Professor, University of Oslo

Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard

Max-Planck-Institute for Developmental Biology, Tübingen, Germany

Bio: Professor Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard is a developmental biologist and a member of the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Tübingen, Germany. She was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology in 1995 (shared with Edward B. Lewis and Eric F. Wieschaus). Read more at her homepage at the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft and the biographical page at

Lecture title: Animal Beauty – Function and Evolution of Biological Aesthetics

Abstract: Mankind finds the colours, the patterns and the songs of animals beautiful, just as we do works of art, paintings and music. Our works of art are created by humans for humans, but what about the wonderful works of nature, the ornaments and sounds of animals? Why and for whom are they there? How do they arise?

Continue reading the abstract

Animal colour patterns have important functions in communication among individuals of a species, for example recognition and selection of a mating partner, or attraction of many individuals to form large groups. Colour patterns also serve as deceptive signals that are recognized by individuals of different species.  Moreover, colour patterns are highly variable and evolve rapidly leading to large diversities even within a single genus. In short, colour patterns are of high evolutionary relevance as targets of natural as well as sexual selection.
How insects, beetles, flies and butterflies develop their colours is reasonably well known, but in vertebrates many things about it are obscure. With mammals and birds, critical steps in the development of colour patterns are hidden either in the mother's belly or in the bird's egg. We do, however, now know a lot more about these processes in fish, which display a multitude of beautiful patterns composed of a mosaic of differently coloured cells in the skin. The characteristic stripe pattern of the zebrafish Danio rerio serves as a model for the development and evolution of animal colour patterns.


  • Nüsslein-Volhard and Singh 2017: How fish colour their skin: a paradigm for development and evolution of adult patterns. Bioessays 39:1600231
  • Nüsslein-Volhard 2017: Schönheit der Tiere. Evolution biologischer Ästhetik. Matthes und Seitz Berlin

May-Britt Moser

Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience, NTNU, Trondheim, Norway

Bio: Professor May-Britt Moser is the Founding Director of Centre for Neural Computation and Co-Director of the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience. May-Britt Moser is interested in the neural basis of spatial location and spatial specifically and cognition more generally. Her work, conducted with Edvard Moser as a long-term collaborator, includes the discovery of grid cells in the entorhinal cortex, as well as several additional space-representing cell types in the same circuit. She was awarded the Nobelprize in Physiology or Medicine in 2014 (shared with Edvard Moser and John O'Keefe). Read more at her homepage at NTNU and the biographical page at

Lecture title: A deep-dive into the brain

About the lecture: “A deep-dive into the brain”, with Professor May-Britt Moser at the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience at NTNU and the Trondheim Soloists. They will bring together Nobel Prize winning science and art in a multimedia concert lecture. Cells responding to space in the hippocampal-entorhinal network will be described in a context of memory and memory loss.

Published July 5, 2019 11:20 AM - Last modified Mar. 9, 2021 9:15 AM