UD professor to shine light on Arctic polar night June 13

Jonathan Cohen talk part of Ocean Currents Lecture Series
June 11, 2019

On Thursday, June 13, the University of Delaware’s Jonathan Cohen will give a talk focused on “Light in the Dark: Marine Biology in the Arctic Polar Night” as part of UD’s Ocean Currents Lecture Series.

The talk will start at 7 p.m. in Cannon Laboratory Room 104, Hugh R. Sharp Campus, 1044 College Drive, Lewes. The lecture series is free and open to the public. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. This lecture is appropriate for all age groups.

Cohen, associate professor in UD’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment, said that it wasn’t until recently that researchers began exploring how life reacts during winter time in the Arctic and the Antarctic, as the general scientific consensus was that as winter approaches and the polar night takes over, life stops as organisms hibernate or go dormant.

“The more we’ve looked into it, the less that seems to happen,” said Cohen. “It actually seems like there’s life that’s going on.”

Cohen’s research looks specifically at the deep sea and how bioluminescence, or light produced by organisms, becomes increasingly important during the polar night. He has been trying to quantify how light shapes the ecosystems and will touch on some of the challenges that face researchers trying to quantify light in those environments and the tools they utilize - such as research vessels or autonomous underwater robots.

He will also talk about how to think about the polar regions during a period of climate change and how the research taking places at the poles is both interdisciplinary and highly international.

Cohen has travelled to the polar region since doing his post-doctoral work in the Antarctic looking at deep-sea biology and how organisms perceive light, their physiological capability to perceive light and how it generated behavior in the animals.

His UD-affiliated explorations to the high Arctic during winter began in 2012. For the talk, he will focus on those explorations and what he’s learned from field campaigns from research vessels as well as his time at a field station in Ny-Alesund, which is located in Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago.

For more information contact, 302-831-6427.


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