Tom Baden tells Julie Gould about his research into the neuroscience of vision, and a passion for open hardware.

Tom Baden, professor of neuroscience at the University of Sussex, UK, is the first winner of an award to recognise early career researchers whose work has made, or has the potential to make, a positive impact on society.

Baden’s research on zebrafish and mice showed that eyes have vastly greater computational powers than people previously thought, rather than being faithful recorders of the real world.

The judges of the award, run in partnership with Chinese technology company Tencent, said Baden's research could have a significant impact on both diagnostic and therapeutic ophthalmology research.

In addition to his research, Baden tells Julie Gould about his interest in open hardware and 3D printing and its potential to make well equipped labs more affordable for developing countries.

Baden is also cofounder of Teaching and Research in Neuroscience for Development (TReND) in Africa. This nonprofit, which launched in 2010, runs research courses in sub-Saharan Africa and helps to place scientists who’d like to teach there into the region’s universities.

The group also collects unused lab equipment from facilities in the United States and Europe and redistributes it to laboratories across Africa.