Bob Muller, loose-fish

[Shane O’Mara adds:]

This is terribly sad news indeed. I have always felt Bob’s influence, despite the fact that we never worked together directly. Bob’s papers in the Journal of Neuroscience (see here)are quietly-written masterpieces in how to do great science. I still remember the excitement of reading them for the first time: the creative use of converging methodologies to explore hippocampal place cells in a truly quantitative fashion set the standard thereafter.

I first met Bob as a PhD student in Edmund Rolls’ lab: he came for a day and we had great fun in the lab together, discussing experiments (and life). We had a walk together afterwards through Oxford which I still remember with a smile, as Bob’s humour was turned on to its full effect. He produced a great chapter (along with John Kubie and ES Hawley) for a book I co-edited with Marina Lynch – a fantastic ‘how-to’ of in vivo neurophysiology. He spoke at a conference I hosted in Dublin in 2000 – and gave a quietly-spoken masterclass. We would sometimes meet at poster sessions at SfN – most recently in Chicago. We had a fantastic conversation about ‘anomalous’ cells: those occasional oddities you find in hippocampus and elsewhere that aren’t textbook in their behaviour. We had found a few unusual place x head direction cells in CA1 (<6 or 7). Bob had loads of ideas for testing them, and for how we should make sure we weren’t merely recording two cells simultaneously. Conversations were always great fun with Bob – and always memorable, as he was easily one of the smartest and gentlest people I have ever meet in science.

Corona Radiata

Bob Muller, close friend and colleague, died last Monday (Sept 16, 2013). His life was remarkable in breadth, richness and the number of people he loved and influenced. Bob occupied space, lots of space,  now a vacuum. Not a vacuum, really; we have memories, achievements and the influence Bob had on so many.  Alex, Bob’s daughter, read an email he sent while she was struggling as a novice marine biologist, trying to tag and collect tagged fish. Bob’s email was what we had come to expect: funny (very funny), warm, insightful and wise (although minus the scatological humor regularly heard from Bob).*

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Author: Shane O'Mara

Neuroscientist

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