Dr. Koehl's lecture abstract: Many bottom-dwelling marine animals release microscopic larvae that are dispersed to new sites by ambient water currents. How do these larvae manage to land in suitable habitats? We are investigating the biology and physics of how tiny larvae carried in turbulent, wave-driven flow can use aromas released by corals to find their way to reefs.
MIMI KOEHL is a professor in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on the physics of how organisms interact with their environments, and how body structure affects mechanical function in nature. She does both field research and lab experiments to study a variety of problems: how bottom-dwelling marine organisms withstand waves and currents, and how their microscopic larvae (which are dispersed by moving water) manage to land in the right habitats; how odor molecules are dispersed in natural environments and are intercepted by olfactory antennae; how food particles are captured by aquatic animals; how flight evolved; and how shape changes are produced in soft-bodied animals and developing embryos. She has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Other honors include the Borelli Award (American Society of Biomechanics), Rachel Carson Award (American Geophysical Union), and Presidential Young Investigator Award. She is the heroine of a children’s book, Nature’s Machines (part of NAS series to interest kids in science), and she has recently published a book for the lay reader about the physics of marine organisms, Wave-Swept Shore. See http://ib.berkeley.edu/labs/koehl