The GMGI Science Hour with : Dr. Roger Hanlon White: A Warm Up

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Known as: Senior Scientist at the Marine Biological Laboratory and Professor (MBL) of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Brown University

Based out of: Woods Hole, MA

What he does in 10 words or less: Researches the sensory ecology of cephalopods (octopus, squid, cuttlefish, and nautilus)

Why what he does is important to you: Cephalopods have the fastest color change known in animal species. They can camouflage themselves in less than one second, even in complex visual environments like coral reefs. This is due to the direct neural control of the skin color, pattern, and 3-D texture. Discovering the neural and dermal mechanisms of color change has led Dr. Hanlon to collaborate with material scientists and engineers to develop new classes of materials that change appearance based on the pigments and reflectors in cephalopod skin for a variety of applications.

What you’ll learn from the talk:

Dr. Hanlon will discuss invertebrate central nervous system (CNS) function and how cephalopod visual perception of its natural environment guides their dynamic camouflage. He will explain their sophisticated system of Rapid Adaptive Coloration and how the CNS transcribes the animals’ sensory input into motor output, telling pigmented cells such as chromatophores and iridophores to produce appropriate body patterns for camouflage and communication. What is the visual algorithm that guides pattern choice and ultrafast change? How do visual predators perceive these pattern types? Imagine your brain telling your skin to change color, pattern, and texture in order to blend in with your surroundings and communicate with your fellow human beings!

Key Terms:

Cephalopod:: a class of marine mollusks including squids, cuttlefishes, octopus, and nautilus that move by expelling water from a tubular siphon under the head. They also have a group of muscular, sucker-bearing arms around the front of the head, highly developed eyes, and usually a sac containing ink which is ejected for defense or concealment.

Ethology: the scientific and objective study of animal behavior especially under natural conditions.

Central nervous systems (CNS): the part of the nervous system to which sensory impulses are transmitted and from which motor impulses pass out, and which coordinates the activity of the entire nervous system.

Chromatophore: a cell of an animal capable of causing color changes by expanding or contracting.

Iridophore: an iridescent chromatophore.

When: Thursday, April 28th at 7:30pm on Zoom. Register here.