View Full Version : ISB Announces 2009 Muybridge Medal Awardee - Prof. Mimi Koehl

Davis, Brian L., Ph.d.
01-13-2009, 05:44 AM
The ISB is pleased to announce that this year's Muybridge Award winner
is Prof. Mimi Koehl.

Perhaps her e-mail "handle" - cnidaria - is a clue that this is not the
stereotyped scientist of old movies, but someone who's proved herself to
be an "audacious pioneer" and certainly not one who's afraid to get her
feet wet. An online cartoon version of herself tells youngsters "Don't
be afraid of science" and welcomes them to explore and experiment.

The real-life Mimi A.R. Koehl, Ph.D., heads a laboratory in the novel
field of comparative biomechanics in the Department of Integrative
Biology at the University of California at Berkeley. Prof. Koehl is
known for work as varied as

* How sea kelp survives oceanic turbulence
* How wing fanning relates to pheromone reception
* The olfactory ("sniffing") habits of lobsters for the U.S.
Office of Naval Research.

Offspring of a physicist father and artist mother, Prof. Koehl is a
magna cum laude graduate of Gettysburg College. She obtained her
doctorate in zoology from Duke University in 1976, then pursued
postdoctoral studies at the University of Washington and the University
of York in England. She studied under Steven Vogel, Ph.D., and Stephen
Wainwright, Ph.D.; her dissertation on a sea anemone, in which she
combined expertise of both fluid and solid mechanics learned from her
mentors, influenced them to change their team-taught course to
"Comparative Biomechanics."

Author of dozens of peer-reviewed articles, Prof. Koehl has herself been
the subject of several works recognizing the contributions of women
scientists, including the biography Nature's Machines: The Story of
Biomechanist Mimi Koehl (one of a series by the National Academy of
Sciences to encourage science education) and a profile in Discover
magazine in 1991.

By her own account, she uses fluid and solid mechanics to study the
mutual effects of structure and form on marine creatures and plants; she
has even studied feathers in dinosaurs. Her focus is on investigating
"structure and function on several levels of organization: tissue,
organismal, and environmental." Her integrative work combines field
work and laboratory experiments. Her research goal is "to elucidate
basic physical rules that can be applied to different kinds of organisms
about how body structure affects mechanical function in nature."

Among the many honors she has received are election to the National
Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the
Borelli Award of the American Society of Biomechanics, recognition as
the Rachel Carson Lecturer of the American Geophysical Union, a
Fellowship from the John T. and Catherine D. MacArthur Foundation
(awarded based on anonymous nominations to a scientist who shows
"exceptional merit and promise for continued and enhanced creative
work"), a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, and the
Presidential Young Investigator Award.

To this fine "trophy case" of recognition, the International Society for
Biomechanics is proud to add this year's Muybridge Medal.

For anyone wishing to hear this year's Muybridge lecture---the ISB
Congress is being held in Cape Town, South Africa. Details are
available at: http://www.isb2009.org .


Brian L. Davis

ISB Past-President


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