Friday Harbor, WA 98250
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The Paul Illg Distinguished Lectureship will present another outstanding speaker in 2010. I am pleased to announce the 12th annual Illg Lecturer will be Dr. Sonke Johnsen who is an associate professor in the Biology Department at Duke University (http://www.biology.duke.edu/johnsenlab/).
He received a B.A. in mathematics from Swarthmore College and his Ph.D. in biology from the University of North Carolina at
Chapel Hill. Sonke's research interests are in comparative physiology; focusing on optical adaptations to a pelagic existence, including topics such as transparency, cryptic coloration, bioluminescence, ultraviolet protection and vision, and orientation and navigation. Recent and current projects include the
propagation of bioluminescent signals underwater, the visibility of aquatic animals, the relationship between tissue ultrastructure and transparency, the visual ecology of polarization vision, the effect of ultraviolet vision on predation, and optical sampling techniques for zooplankton.
Public Lecture: On Tuesday evening, June 22 at 7:00 p.m. at the San Juan Community Theater, Dr.
Johnsen will present a talk entitled, 'Hide and Seek in the Open Sea.'
Dr. Johnsen offered the following autobiographical description:
'All my life, I never wanted to be a biologist. After choosing a college solely on the fact that a family friend's hardware store was in the same town and I began a major in Physics. An Algebra professor who danced and told funny stories about pathological geniuses convinced me to change my major to Mathematics. I added a major in Art, mostly abortive because I refused to take art
history and left college disenchanted with education.
'I then worked as a daycare provider and kindergarten teacher for Quakers, a freelance carpenter, and a dance teacher for three year olds. It was during this last job that I met Sarah, the daughter of Scott Gilbert, who wrote the developmental biology textbook used by most colleges. After hitch-hiking across the Pacific Northwest, I decided that I needed more education. A friend and I
went through the alphabet. Deciding that a career in art was likely to be a raw deal, I settled on Biology and met with Scott Gilbert and Rachel Merz. Rachel suggested good places to go to graduate school and Scott got me a job with a friend of his, Stuart Kauffman.
'Luckily, the job with Stu required no knowledge of biology and several graduate schools admitted me despite the same lack. I went to UNC, and after a year of reading and drawing pictures of bugs on the lawn, I decided that biology was 'okay'. With little knowledge but high enthusiasm, I chose a high-risk, low-benefit project that I left behind the moment I handed in my thesis. My
advisor, Bill Kier, pointed me to oceanic zooplankton, we both thought about transparency, and I applied to two oceanographic institutions, both of which turned me down. I cleaned fish tanks for a year, applied again, and both now accepted me. I went on my first research cruise to the Gulf
of Maine with Edie Widder. It was stormy, the ship smelled and I was seasick. It was the best time of my life. Thirteen years later, I have yet to look back.'
You can keep abreast of other events at Friday Harbor Laboratories by visiting
This endowed lecture series is presented in honor of Professor Paul L. Illg, who made many important contributions as a scientist, teacher, mentor, and friend. Paul excelled as a faculty member of the UW Zoology Department from 1952 - 1982. An expert in the biology of crustaceans, he participated in many
summer sessions at Friday Harbor Laboratories. He invited world-renowned scholars to FHL to join him in teaching invertebrate biology and thus greatly enhanced the quality of the graduate program and research
at the Laboratories. The lectureship endowment was established through memorial gifts from Paul's family, friends and colleagues. We thank you for supporting this series of world-class lectures.
Tuesday, 22 June, 2010
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