Crustaceans may be delicious additions to a summer seafood menu, but thanks to the work of Prof. Eve Marder ’69 (NBIO), they have given the neurological community valuable insight into the mechanisms of learning and development in the brain. On Jun. 2, Marder was awarded the prestigious Kavli Prize in Neuroscience for her work studying the nervous systems of crabs and lobsters.

Marder, the University’s Gwendolyn Benfield Professor of Neuroscience, is no stranger to prizes; she was awarded the Gruber Award in Neuroscience in 2013 and was named to the inaugural class of fellows of the American Physiological Society last year.

“I am very pleased and flattered to have been selected as one of the Kavli Prize winners in Neuroscience in 2016,” Marder wrote in an email to the Justice. “To a very large degree, this Prize is due to the extraordinary students and postdocs with whom I have worked at Brandeis since I started my lab in 1978. So, as all of the work honored by the Prize was done here at Brandeis, I want the community here to know that they are also sharing in the honor.”

According to the Kavli Prize’s website, Marder received the award because she “defined the mechanisms by which brains remain stable while allowing for change during development and learning” by discovering that there are mechanisms in place for crabs’ and lobsters’ nervous systems to change how neurons communicate with each other without altering their structure.

The prize awards recipients with a gold medal, a scroll and a $1,000,000 cash prize in each of the award’s three academic categories.

The Kavli Prize itself is a biennial award given to three professors each in three different categories: Neuroscience, Nanoscience and Astrophysics. Past winners include John O’Keefe, who discovered that mammals store physical locations in specific regions of the brain to create an internal map of their surroundings, and Mildred Dresselhaus H’16, the “Queen of Carbon,” who was instrumental in unlocking the mysterious structure that Carbon takes on in nature.

Marder joins this prestigious group as the result of more than 40 years of research. She first began studying the nervous systems of West Coast spiny lobsters in the early 1970s at the University of California. She now manages her own lab on campus, where she teaches classes such as Molecular Pharmacology — BIOL149b — and Principles of Neuroscience — NBIO140b — while conducting research with the help of postdoctoral researchers, graduate students and undergraduates.

“To have [the Kavli Prize] awarded to Eve Marder, who is not only a pioneering neuroscientist at Brandeis but also an alumna, is a tremendous honor for the University. On behalf of Brandeis, I congratulate Professor Marder along with this year’s other Kavli Prize laureates,” University Provost Lisa Lynch told BrandeisNOW.