Citation for Mimi A.R. Koehl

Presented by Trustee M. Patricia Morse ’60

President Hansen, I am honored to present Mimi Koehl.

Years ago at Bates, here on our Historic Quad, it was forbidden to leave the formal pathways and venture onto the green grass. The campus verdancy, we now know, can survive our human steps, and, to extend this metaphor, we can observe how the once-strict paths of liberal learning allow us to move freely into new ways of understanding.

Today we recognize Mimi Koehl, Professor of Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, member of the National Academy of Sciences, MacArthur Fellow and a beloved teacher and mentor to endless students. Years ago at Gettysburg College, Dr. Koehl departed from the path chosen for her. Changing majors from art to biology, she defied her family’s expectations while creating an opportunity to perceive the natural world with the instincts and talents of both artist and scientist.

An expert in evolutionary and ecological biomechanics, she investigates how living things do what they do so well. Using a flexible set of intellectual tools, often combining physics, engineering, mathematics and biology, Dr. Koehl has explored many paths and often skipped across the grass between them. An adventurous researcher, she loves to go where the wild things are, and is known for her “elaborate and elegant” experiments that have explained how lobsters perceive smell, how sea anemones withstand the battering of ocean waves, and how insects got their wings. Along the way, she proved that beauty is not merely in the eye of the beholder. We experience the beauty of things when we truly understand them.

For her imaginative explorations of the natural world that yield both insight and heightened appreciation for the wondrous talents and abilities of all living things, I present Mimi Koehl for the degree Doctor of Science.

President’s conferral:

Mimi Koehl, your humanistic exuberance as a scholar is matched by the talent you have displayed in a career devoted to unraveling mysteries of the natural world. Therefore by the authority vested in me by the Board of Trustees, I hereby confer upon you the degree Doctor of Science, with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities which here and everywhere pertain to this degree.