Originally trained in mathematics and art, Sönke Johnsen has studied light and vision in marine biology for over 30 years. He is particularly interested in vision and camouflage in the open ocean, but has also worked on coastal and terrestrial species, navigation, nocturnal illumination, and human cataracts. His research combines mathematical analyses with behavioral and morphological studies and underwater measurements and observations. His field work primarily involves open-ocean research cruises that use SCUBA and deep-sea submersibles. In addition to exploring the evolution and diversity of the optical and visual tricks that animals perform, Professor Johnsen is interested in improving communication between theoretical and experimental scientists, biologists and physicists, and scientists and artists.
Outreach is a strong focus, and Johnsen’s research has been presented in numerous magazines, newspapers and television shows, including Finding Nemo, The Magic Treehouse, the humor of Dave Barry, and the poetry of John Updike. Professor Johnsen has also written two books, The Optics of Life and Visual Ecology, and is currently working on a third on open ocean life for a public audience. In his spare time, he is an avid nature photographer and amateur farmer.