Christian Machens studied physics at the University of Tübingen, SUNY Stony Brook, and Humboldt-University in Berlin. Fascinated by the possibility of applying concepts and tools from physics to the study of the brain, he did his PhD thesis work in computational neuroscience with Andreas Herz at Humboldt-University in Berlin. In 2002, he moved to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where he worked as a postdoctoral fellow with Tony Zador and Carlos Brody. After a brief stint as a junior research group leader at Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich during the year 2006-07, he was appointed Assistant Professor at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris in 2007, where he joined the Group for Neural Theory. Since September 2011, Machens has been a Principal Investigator at the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown. He studies neural populations across various brain areas and animal species, combining data analysis with the modeling of spiking neural networks.