Daniel Mietchen

Set up a Beryllium treasure hunt open for students from all zones. Good luck!

Favourite Thing: The dialogues with nature or its symbolic representations. Seeing it in action, considering our place in it, and the storm of endorphines you get when you understand why things worked out the way they did.



Five schools across Germany between 1981 and 1994. Latest one: Archenhold-Oberschule, Berlin.


1991-2003: Maths, Biophysics, Medicine, Central Asian, Korean and Japanese studies in Berlin (HU and FU), Sendai, Paris, Duisburg and Sana’a. Diploma (Biophysics) in 2001, PhD (Physics) 2006.

Work History:

2001-2007: Korea Basic Science Institute in Daejeon, Republic of Korea; Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering in St. Ingbert, Germany; Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany.


Since 2007: University of Jena.

Current Job:

Postdoc in brain morphometry.

Me and my work

I analyze brain scans to detect structural changes over time or between groups, with a focus on schizophrenia and evolution: What is the relation between the size and folding of a brain?

myimage1 In general, much of my work as a scientist has been focused on applying methods from physics to the study of biological structures and processes from a comparative evolutionary perspective. For an example, read about the origins of my Twitter avatar.

My Typical Day

I strip digital brains of their skulls, inflate and compare them.

What I'd do with the money

I would use it to stimulate research blogging on neglected topics.

My reply here caused an error for being too long, so I turned it into a reply to What would you spend the prize money on?

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

What would science

Who is your favourite singer or band?

I prefer music which does not require electricity to be performed. A good example is the throat-singing of the group AltaiKai.

What is the most fun thing you've done?

One of the most exciting moments was performing traditional Central Asian music with my band in the heart of Central Asia – on the Registan Square in Samarqand, Usbekistan. You can get an idea about that from this trailer, with video graphics imitating the style of Uzbek TV.

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

(1) A life that is balanced between work, family, hobbies, health and environmental footprint, (2) a long-term research grant with no strings attached, (3) more occasions to actually use foreign languages.

What did you want to be after you left school?

A researcher in biophysics or a physician in a developing country.

Were you ever in trouble at school?

A number of teachers and class mates certainly thought so on occasion.

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Non-invasively recorded 3D images of fossils, embryonic development and supercooled insect larvae, by means of Magnetic Resonance Imaging.

Tell us a joke.

Schrödinger’s cat walks into a bar … and doesn’t.