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Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Randolf Menzel

 Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Randolf Menzel

AG Menzel

Institut für Biologie

Freie Universität Berlin



Königin-Luise-Str. 28/30
Raum 5
14195 Berlin-Dahlem
030 838-56537
Sabine Funke
030 838-55455

Curriculum Vitae

Name: Randolf Herrmann Reinhardt M e n z e l

Address: Tollensestr. 42e, 14167 Berlin, Germany

Telephone: ++49 30/817 78 08

Marital status: married (1967) to Mechtild M. (nee Kaul)

Children: Sabine (*1967), Julia (*1970), Rebecca, and Simon (*1975)

07. June 1940 Born son of Dr. Hans Menzel and Dr. Helen e Menzel (nee Urban) in Marienbad/CSR

1946 - 1951 Primary school in Goddelau and Gernsheim/Rhein (State of Hessen, Germany)

1951 - 1960 High School and College Gernsheim/Rhein

1960 Final examination (Abitur) and qualification for university

1960 - 1963 Study of Biology, Chemistry, and Physics at the University of Frankfurt/M.

1963 Study of Biology and Animal Physiology at the University of Tübingen

1965 - 1967 Ph.D. work on colour vision and learning in honeybees with Prof. Dr. M. Lindauer

05. May 1967 Ph.D.-degree obtained, University of Frankfurt/M.

1967 - 1969 Appointment as postdoc research assistant to Prof. Dr. M. Lindauer by the “Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft” (German Research Council)

1968 Examination for the qualification as High School teacher (“Gymnasium”) (Biology, Chemistry, and Theory of Education)

27. Sept. 1968 Appointed lecturer at the Technical University (TH) Darmstadt, Zoologisches Institut under Prof. Dr. H. Markl

06. June 1971 “Habilitation” (university teaching qualification) in Zoology, TH Darmstadt

10. Okt. 1972 Appointed Assistant Professor (C2) with tenure at Zoologisches Institut, TH Darmstadt

1972 - 1973 Visiting reserch fellow in the Department of Neurobiology, RSBS, Australian National University, Canberra (Prof. Dr. G.A. Horridge)

1973 and 1974 Offer of a lecturer position with tenure at the Department of Neurobiology, Australian National University, Canberra

1973 - 1976 Spokesperson for the research group “Neuralbasis of behaviour” at the TH Darmstadt

10. Febr. 1976 Appointed Professor (C3) at the Institute for Animal Physiology and Applied Zoology at Freie Universität Berlin

1976 Offer of a position as full Professor in the Department of Biology, Princeton University, NJ Offer of a position as Professor (C4) and Department Chairperson at the University of Hamburg

since 1976 Professor (C4) and Head of the Institute of Neurobiology at Freie Universität Berlin

1978 Research at the Department of Neurobiology, Australian National University, Canberra

1978 - 1980 Dean of the School of Biology, Freie Universität Berlin

1979 - 1987 Lecturer at the summer school in Woods Hole (MA, USA), MBL (9 times in total), course: Neural Systems and Behavior

1977 - 1988 Regularly held the position of Administrative Director of the Institute for Animal Physiology and Applied Zoology, Department of Biology at Freie Universität Berlin

1984 - 1989 Research trips to USA, Australia, Brazil and Israel

1987 - 1996 Curator of the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tübingen

1988 - 1996 Elected referee in the field of Zoology for the “Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft”

1991 Leibniz Award from the “Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft”

since 1991 Member of the Academy of Sciences and Arts, Mainz

1992 - 1995 President of the International Society of Neuroethology

since 1992 Member of the Academia Europaea

since 1993 Member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences

since 1996 Member of the German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina

1998 - 2004 Associate of the Neuroscience Research Program San Diego (USA)

since 2000 Member of the Royal Norwegian Academy of Sciences

2000 Körber-Preis for European Science, Körber Foundation , Hamburg

2002 - 2008 Guest Professor at the Center of Neuroscience at the University of Trondheim (Norway)

2004 Karl Ritter von Frisch Prize of the German Zoology Society

2007 Honorary doctorate, Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse/Frankreich

2008 International Prize of Cognitive Neuroscience, Foundation Fyssen/France

since 2008 Emeritus Professor

Navigation in honeybees: the organization of large-scale spatial memory


Harmonic radar tracking was used in summer 2012 to record the flights of scout bees during take-off and the initial flight path of a honeybee swarm. One swarm performed a full flight to a destination beyond the range of the harmonic radar, another swarm disintegrated within the range of the radar and most of the bees returned to the queen, which had remained at the starting point. We found that the initial stretch of the full flight is characterized by accelerating speed, whereas the disintegrating swarm flew steadily at low speed. The two scouts in the swarm displaying full flight performed characteristic flight maneuvers. They flew at high speed when traveling in the direction of their destination, and slowed down or returned over short stretches at low speed. Scouts in the disintegrating swarm did not exhibit this characteristic flight performance. Our data support the streaker bee hypothesis proposing that scout bees guide the swarm by traveling at high speed in the direction of the new nest site for short stretches of flight and slowing down when reversing flight direction.

Sleep and its role in memory consolidation

The role of sleep in the honeybee memory consolidation has been addressed in our lab in two studies so far. Hussaini et al. (2009; http://www.neurobiologie.fu-berlin.de/menzel/Pub_AGmenzel/Sleep Deprivation.pdf)  found reduced retention after extinction learning in an olfactory PER experiment if bees are prevented from sleep during the night following extinction learning. Beyaert, Greggers and Menzel tested freely flying bees after navigation learning and found reduced homing rates if the bees could not sleep the night after novel navigation learning (see Beyaert L, Greggers U and Menzel R (2012) Honeybees consolidate navigation memory during sleep. Journal of Experimental Biology 215, 3981-3988) These results support the hypothesis that specific forms of memory consolidation are affected by sleep because acquisition learning in the olfactory PER experiment and cue learning in the free flying bee experiment were not compromised after sleep deprivation. We are currently performing experiments that aim to test whether memory consolidation can be facilitated during sleep phases. We also analyze a large data set from long term extracellular multi unit recordings searching for neural activity patterns during sleep phases (Ina Klinke). Furthermore, we carry out laboratory based navigation experiments and interfere with sleep deprivation (Nanxiang Jin).