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Check in here and/or follow us on X(Twitter)/Instagram for the latest ups and downs 


2023 summary

January 1, 2024

2023 was a big year: we doubled the size of our team! Since Nadia joined the lab in October we have been making great progress designing and building experimental setups to reveal the behavioural significance of bioluminescence. Not only that, we have also acquired a camera that is able to capture bioluminescence on video, held a workshop with science and philosophy collaborators, and talked about our research on a podcast! Our status at the end of the year:

Team members: 2 

Funding received: 100 000 NOK

Funding applications submitted: 1

  • NTNU Oceans seed funding (funded)

This bodes well for a 2024 filled with exciting science! Happy New Year!


New member of the team!

October 7, 2023

Meet our very first PhD student, Nadia van Eekelen!

She has a BSc in Behaviour and Neuroscience, MSc in Marine Biology and will now combine these two fields to study bioluminescence and neuroanatomy in annelids. Exciting times ahead!


Funding for philosophy collaboration! 

April 22, 2023

We submitted an application for seed funding with philosopher Ronny S Myhre to NTNU Oceans a few months back, and it was successful!

In this project, we will explore if it's possible to bridge marine neuroscience and philosophy, by combining experimental research on bioluminescence with theoretical work on the nature of marine animal minds. Interdisciplinary research is not only key to answer the biggest questions, it's also a lot of fun.  Excited to see what this collaboration can achieve!


Now hiring a PhD student!

March 18, 2023

Can hardly believe this day has come, but we're looking for a PhD student to join the lab! 

Come discover the neuroscience of bioluminescence in the land of the midnight sun and northern lights at NTNU in Trondheim, Norway. 


For more information about what the PhD project will involve, check out this research proposal

Apply by April 30th 2023!



2022 summary

January 5, 2023

With 6 talks given (including first international and first conference presentation!), a brand new plankton net and other cool equipment bought and tested, and even an Instagram account created, 2022 went by in a flash. Our status at the end of the year:

Team members: 1 

Funding received: 0

Funding applications submitted: 4​

  • RCN's Researcher Project for Scientific Renewal (rejected)

  • Torstein Erbos Gavefond (rejected)

  • Wilhelmsen Scholarship (rejected)

  • Hans Herman Horns Stiftelse (rejected)

Here's to a 2023 filled with new adventures - Happy New Year!


First conference presentation

October 29, 2022

Last week we presented the idea behind the lab and some (very) preliminary data at a conference for the very first time! The conference, Visionarium XX, was held at Tvärminne Zoological Station in Finland and hosted a great group of people studying vision in all sorts of organisms. A very rewarding experience!

Instagram colour logo

We're on Instagram!

June 21, 2022

We've been testing out Instagram as another social media platform to share our journey on and we're now ready to share it with you. It has the same content as our Twitter account, but reaches a wider audience AND it is bilingual! So you can now follow our ups and downs in both English and Norwegian. Check it out here!

Screenshot 2022-04-04 224705_edited.jpg

First talk abroad

April 4, 2022

Our very first talk abroad happened virtually last week at the Department of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in the USA. Such an honour to be invited and it was an absolute delight to spend a full day talking to faculty, students and postdocs about the various critters and big questions in neuroscience. A big thank you to the amazing Gül Dölen for the invitation and for organising a fantastic day!


A plankton net of our own!

March 21, 2022

Last month we finally received our very own, brand new, plankton net! The opening is more than 1 m wide, and it has a solid 16 kg steel frame surrounding the collection bucket at the end to keep it vertical in the water. Recently we got to take it for its first dip in the ocean, and it successfully collected all kinds of plankton: from small copepods to surprisingly large jellyfish, plus some more intermediate-sized tomopterid worms (our favourite). Here's to many, many more collection trips with this net!


First external talk

January 22, 2022

Yesterday we had the honour of (virtually) visiting and presenting our work at the Sars International Centre for Marine Molecular Biology at the University of Bergen, Norway. A major milestone as this was our very first external talk, and we left with even more ideas for future projects and collaborations than what we had going in. Preparing talks is time consuming and presenting can be terrifying, but this was a great experience. A big thank you to everyone at Sars and UiB for fantastic questions and discussions!


2021 summary

January 2, 2022

What a year! In 2021 we received our first funding, went on our first independent field trip, launched our GitHub code repository, and won a science communication award. Our status at the end of the year:

Team members: 1 

Funding received: 150 000 NOK

Funding applications submitted: 4

  • Nansenfondet og de dermed forbundne fond (funded)

  • RCN's Researcher Project for Young Talents (rejected)

  • Hans Herman Horns Stiftelse (rejected)

  • Norske kvinnelige akademikeres stipendiefond til Ellen Gleditsch minne (rejected)

Will 2022 be as eventful as 2021? It's time to find out. Happy New Year!


We've received a science communication award!

November 9, 2021

This year's Brain Power Award (Hjernekraftprisen) was shared between Ragnhild Irene Jacobsen and two other recipients (Sunniva Grønnslett and Morten Skumsrud Andersen). The prize, presented by the trade union Forskerforbundet (The Norwegian Association of Researchers), is awarded for stories in any format that depict why research is important to a general audience. Ragnhild's submission "Finding (bioluminescent) light in the darkness" was praised for "being on the verge of poetry, a beautiful and fascinating portrayal of life in the deep that titillates the reader's curiosity".

You can read the awarded piece here and read more about the prize and the other recipients on the association's website (in Norwegian).

We hope you like it too!


Our biggest rejection yet

June 24, 2021

Our 8 million NOK application to The Research Council of Norway's "Researcher Project for Young Talents" was rejected today. This means we still cannot operate full-time or take on students. It's heart-breaking but not entirely unexpected - this was after all our first big funding application and we are very new to the grant-writing game.


We will, however, continue to work with our generous and fantastic collaborators on what the evaluators called a "highly creative and original project [...] with significant likelihood of producing unique new knowledge" and aim to return with a stronger application in a later round. But first, plenty of ice cream and a good movie to cheer up!


Launch of our code repository on GitHub

June 3, 2021

The official code repository for the MNL is live on GitHub! This is where we will manage and share the code we use for our projects. You can already check out how we deliver light stimuli to our worms with an Arduino - both code and setup diagrams are available in our  Arduino_code repository.

Happy coding everyone!

Light stim frame.png

Our first preliminary results

April 5, 2021

Question: how do marine worms react to bright lights?

Answer: they swim faster!  (see the video on Twitter)

By using the torch function on a smartphone and our quick fingers, we could provide a brief light flash (white circle in top right corner of image) to Tomopterids filmed in the dark with infrared light. 

These worms live in dark waters and use bioluminescence to communicate, to it is perhaps not surprising that they are startled by bright lights!


First field trip!

February 18, 2021

We went on our very first field trip today, to collect tomopterids!

How do you go about doing that? By letting a big plankton net sink several hundred meters into the sea and hoping you'll find some in the little collection bucket when it resurfaces. We found 8! 

Plankton net: borrowed from our friends at the Trondhjem Biological Station

Boat: Harry Borthen, rented from Normann Maritime AS

Photo: Horst Obenhaus


First successful funding application!

January 29, 2021

Gidske and Peter Jacob Sørensens Fund has granted us 100 000 NOK (approx €9 600)! We are over the moon with joy: this means we can rent a boat to collect the specimens we need for our experiments, buy a powerful computer for data acquisition and analysis, as well as acquire reagents for doing histology. 

This time, we celebrate with take-away sushi while looking forward to the exciting science times ahead! 

2020-2021 new year

2020 summary

January 2, 2021

After a Covid-19 induced delay, the MNL finally 'opened' in August 2020 with the arrival of our first Tomopteris specimens. At the end of the year, our status is as follows:

Team members: 1 

Funding attained: 0

Funding applications submitted: 4

  • Wilhelmsen Scholarship (rejected)

  • Hans Herman Horns Stiftelse (under evaluation)

  • Torstein Erbos Gavefond (rejected)

  • Gidske og Peter Jacob Sørensens Fond (under evaluation)

It's been a year of ups and downs and no one knows what 2021 will bring, but our goal is to find something to celebrate regardless. 

Happy New Year everyone!

Chocolate fondant with ice cream

First grant rejection

November 26, 2020

We have received our first funding application rejection. Rejection is the norm in research, but it's still painful. So how to feel better? By making, and eating, chocolate fondants (one undercooked + one overcooked = perfection), read a good book and get up the next day ready to continue this journey! 

Plus, we're now official members of the biggest club in research, that of grant rejectees. Another milestone reached!

Living-room-lab vs SeaLab

We're moving!

November 5, 2020

We're saying goodbye to our living-room-lab, and hello to NTNU SeaLab. They are letting us borrow a corner in their fantastic facilities, in a temperature controlled room with easy access to fresh seawater. Although it has been great fun keeping worms in a kitchen fridge and doing experiments on a living room floor, moving to SeaLab will make data collection much easier. Their generosity is beyond words and we're beyond excited to continue our journey with them!

Application submitted

First funding application submitted!

October 14, 2020

We have submitted our very first funding application for the lab: an equipment grant that will allow us to buy the basic materials we need for our experiments. If successful, this grant will be our first official funding source and substantially support our initial experiments. But if unsuccessful we'll be an official member of the biggest club in the scientific community, given that the vast majority of funding applications are in fact rejected. Either way, this is a big milestone for the lab!

MarineNeuroLab website section

Our website is live!

September 22, 2020

Hello World! The lab now has a website and a Twitter account where you can discover what the Marine Neuroscience Laboratory is all about. Stay tuned - our adventure has only just begun!

Tomopteris with grid background

The first Tomopteris specimens have arrived at the lab!

August 27, 2020

One of our friends at Trondhjem Biological Station, Nicole Aberle-Malzahn, went on a research cruise in Trondheimsfjorden with her team and found 11 Tomopteris specimens among their samples. These she very kindly donated to marineneurolab and officially kicked off our behavioural studies. Thank you Nicole!

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