In his Berlin-based research group, Ulrich Müller examines the sensory mechanisms of hair cells that perform an important function in human hearing. They convert acoustic stimuli into electrical signals and, when defective, can even lead to deafness. The hearing scientist of the Solomon H. Snyder Department of Neuroscience at the John Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA, received his doctorate in biology from the University of Cologne and Princeton University.
Please close your eyes for a moment and think about your research project. What do you see at first?
Now that answer will be boring. I am seeing hair cells and how they move to the sound of music.
What would your research project look like if it was a piece of art?
I think it is a piece of art as it is. Art and science are not so different, driven by the passion, character and leanings of the person conducting it. If I had to think of it as a piece of art I would think of it as an intricate painting with a lot of details but where the whole looks pleasing and easy to grasp.
To your opinion, what are the three most meaningful inventions of mankind?
Music, which speaks to our emotions. The Newtonian approach to understanding nature. Money, which allows trade across large distances.
With whom would you like to exchange your workplace for one day, and what would you do then?
There is little one could do in a day. I would be interested to see how a day goes for Ali Khamenei in Iran to get a different viewpoint of the world. Or a day as head of state of the USA or Germany to get a view from their vantage point. But then again a day would probably do little and not be very helpful. It would be rather superficial.
Any rather unusual hobbies you might want to share?
I used to collect replicas of hominid sculls to follow advances in primate/human evolution.
Is there a place in Berlin that links to the work on your research project?
The Berlin Symphony.
Which place in Berlin do you like the most, and why?
I don’t know the city well enough but I like the Gendarmen Markt for its beauty and presence of history.