Harding B. Michel Lectureship to Feature Award-Winning Biomechanics Scholar

Dr. Mimi Koehl to Speak at the Rosenstiel School, March 5 at 10:30 a.m.


VIRGINIA KEY, Fla. — The University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science announced that the next Harding B. Michel Biological Oceanography Lectureship will feature Dr. Mimi Koehl, Virginia G. and Robert E. Gill Professor of Natural History in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of California at Berkeley. The lecture, entitled: “How do microscopic planktonic larvae of benthic animals land in the right place in turbulent, wave-driven flow?” will take place in the Rosenstiel School Auditorium (4600 Rickenbacker Causeway) on March 5 at 10:30 a.m.

Studying the physics of how organisms interact with their environments, Koehl is working to illuminate basic physical rules that can be applied to different kinds of organisms about how body structure affects mechanical function in nature. Using both organisms and physical models, Koehl has made headway in the emerging field of biomechanics by studying a variety of problems: the fluid dynamics of how molecules are captured by olfactory antennae and how food particles are filtered from the water by aquatic animals, the mechanisms by which bottom-dwelling marine organisms withstand waves and currents, the evolution of aerodynamic performance in insects and gliding vertebrates, the dispersal of chemical cues and of larvae in turbulent aquatic habitats, and the mechanics of how shape changes are produced in soft-bodied animals and developing embryos.

Combining techniques from fluid and solid mechanics with those from biology to do experiments in the field as well as in the laboratory, Koehl investigates structure and function on several levels. Her often self- created models and experiments are helping researchers investigate important questions like aerodynamic stability, the ability for animals to glide, or the importance of orientation for tiny juvenile marine creatures at the mercy of strong ocean currents.

Koehl earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology (Magna Cum Laude,) from Gettysburg College, and went on to receive her Ph.D. in Zoology from Duke University. Among numerous awards, she has received a MacArthur Foundation fellowship (commonly known as a “genius grant”) and was elected to the National Academy of Science in 2001.

Dr. Harding B. Michel for whom the lectureship is named was an oceanographic pioneer, an educator, an entrepreneur, and a caring mother and mentor.  In 1970, Michel was the first female to be appointed as a tenured full professor at the Rosenstiel School.  Her family has chosen to honor her legacy as a biological oceanographer by establishing the Harding B. Michel Biological Oceanography Lectureship. Each year the series features two eminent biological oceanographers, who present a lecture at the Rosenstiel School and meet with Rosenstiel School students and faculty members. These events provide an important educational opportunity for the entire campus to gather and learn from a distinguished member of the oceanographic community.

About the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School
Founded in the 1940’s, the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science has grown into one of the world’s premier marine and atmospheric research institutions. Offering dynamic interdisciplinary academics, the Rosenstiel School is dedicated to helping communities to better understand the planet, participating in the establishment of environmental policies, and aiding in the improvement of society and quality of life.  For more information, please visit

Media Contacts:

Barbra Gonzalez
UM Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
Marie Guma-Diaz
UM Media Relations Office

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