Mimi Koehl, a Professor of the Graduate School in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, earned her Ph.D. in Zoology at Duke University. She did postdoctoral research in marine biology at Friday Harbor Laboratories, Univ. of Washington, and in biomechanics at the University of York, UK. She was on the faculty at Brown University before moving to Berkeley. Her awards include a MacArthur “genius grant”, a Presidential Young Investigator Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the John Martin Award (Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, for “research that created a paradigm shift in an area of aquatic sciences”), the Borelli Award (American Society of Biomechanics, for “outstanding career accomplishment”), the Rachel Carson Award (American Geophysical Union, for “cutting-edge ocean science”), and the Muybridge Award (International Society of Biomechanics “highest honor”). She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Research Interests

Mimi Koehl studies the physics of how organisms interact with the environment, using both field and lab studies of their fluid dynamics and the biomechanics of their structure. Her work focuses on how microscopic creatures swim and capture food in turbulent water flow, which she is currently applying to studies of how marine larvae recruit to suitable habitats, and to research on the hydrodynamic consequences of forming multicellular colonies by the ancestors of animals. She also studies how benthic organisms such as kelp, seagrass, and coral affect and utilize ambient water currents and waves, how wave-battered marine organisms avoid being washed away, how organisms glide or parachute in wind, and how olfactory antennae catch odors from water or air moving around them.

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Primary Section

Section 63: Environmental Sciences and Ecology

Secondary Section

Section 27: Evolutionary Biology