W. Alden Spencer Memorial Lecture and Award

The W. Alden Spencer Memorial Lecture and Award, established in 1978, is a joint effort between KIBS and the Department of Neuroscience. It honors exceptional young investigators in neuroscience. Since 2018, the award transitioned to a biennial schedule, alternating with the Kandel Lecture, providing a platform for recognizing emerging talent in the field.

Recent Recipients


  • Silvia Arber
    University of Basel
    “Circuit solutions for programming actions”
  • Botond Roska
    University of Basel
    “First steps in vision: Cell types, circuits, and repair”


  • David Ginty
    Harvard Medical School
    “The functional organization of mammalian touch neurons”
  • Ardem Patapoutian
    The Scripps Research Institute
    “Ion channels that feel the force”


  • Winrich Freiwald
    Rockefeller University
    “The dual face: Vision’s inroad into the social brain”
  • Doris Tsao
    California Institute of Technology
    “How the brain encodes faces”


  • Loren Looger
    HHMI Janelia Research Campus
    "​​Watching Brains in Action"
  • Atsushi Miyawaki
    Riken Brain Science Institute
    "Fluorescent Protein Technologies for Neurosciences"


Eric Gouaux
Vollum Institute and Oregon Health and Science University
"The Life of a Memory: Associative Memory Formation and Consolidation"


  • Allison Doupe
    (No Lecture)
  • Michael Brainard
    (No Lecture)


Karl Deisseroth
Stanford University
"Optogenetics: Development and Application"


  • Larry Zipursky
    David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA
    “Call Recognition and Wiring the Brain”
  • Mark Tessier-Lavigne
    Genentech Inc.
    “The Logic and Mechanisms of Axon Guidance, Regeneration, and Degeneration”


Michael Shadlen
University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle
“The Neurobiology of Decision Making: A Window on Cognition”