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George Somero, PhD

George Somero, Director of Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, California and the David and Lucile Packard Professor of Marine Science, is a physiologist who examines the mechanisms that marine organisms use to adapt to their environments. Because he was raised in the far northern corner of Minnesota, it was natural for him to move to McMurdo Station, Antarctica, to conduct his PhD research while a graduate student at Stanford. In Antarctica, he determined the physiological and biochemical mechanisms that enable cold-adapted Antarctic fish to carry out their physiological activities in near-freezing temperatures (-1.9C). Somero is fascinated by organisms' abilities to cope with extremes of environmental stress and during his 34 years as a university professor, his research group has studied organisms' responses to extremes of temperature, salinity and hydrostatic pressure. This research has been done in environments as different as deep-sea hot springs, tropical seas, the polar oceans and the rocky intertidal zone.

Following his doctoral work, Somero did postdoctoral studies at the University of British Columbia with Dr. Peter Hochachka. Together, over a period of almost 25 years, they published three volumes on the topic of biochemical adaptation. Following his postdoctoral studies, Somero served on the faculty of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego for 21 years. He then joined the faculty of Oregon State University for four years prior to his return to Stanford and Hopkins Marine Station in 1995. His laboratory currently is exploring many of the new molecular biological tools developed in biomedical research, like gene chips, for example, to examine the environmental biology of marine organisms. Their work not only examines basic evolutionary mechanisms of adaptation to the environment, but also supplies a foundation for predicting the effects of global climate change on marine ecosystems.

Relevant Publications

Dr. Somero has published approximately 200 original scientific papers and four books. His most recent book, Biochemical Adaptation: Mechanism and Process in Physiological Evolution, co-authored with Peter Hochachka, was published by Oxford University Press in 2002.

Somero, G.N. (2002). "Thermal physiology of intertidal animals: optima, limits, and adaptive plasticity." Integrative and Comparative Biology 42, 780-789.

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