Center for Marine Science

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2022-2023 Planet Ocean Seminar Series

dr. sönke johnsen, duke universitySept 13, 2022
6:30 p.m., CMS Auditorium and via Zoom
A Tale of Two Brothers: Art Meets Science in the Open Sea
Dr. Sönke Johnsen
[recorded seminar]

Originally trained in mathematics and art, Sönke Johnsen has studied optics in biology for the last 32 years, the last 21 of which have been at Duke University. He is particularly interested in vision, signaling, and camouflage in the open ocean, but has also worked on coastal, freshwater, and terrestrial species, animal navigation, nocturnal vision, and human cataracts. His research combines mathematical analyses with behavioral and morphological studies and in situ measurements and imagery. His field work primarily involves open-ocean research cruises that use SCUBA, and deep-sea manned and robotic submersibles, and other imaging and collecting platforms. In addition to exploring the evolution and diversity of the optical and visual tricks that animals perform, Professor Johnsen is interested in improving communication between theoretical and experimental scientists, biologists and physicists, and scientists and artists. Outreach is a strong focus, and Johnsen’s research has been featured in many traditional media outlets, but also in Finding Nemo, The Magic Treehouse book series, the poetry of John Updike, the humor of Dave Barry, and most recently in Ed Yong’s An Immense World. Professor Johnsen has also written two books, The Optics of Life and Visual Ecology, and is currently completing a third on ocean life for a public audience. In his spare time, he is an avid nature photographer and amateur farmer.


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