Ken Lohmann

Ken Lohmann (’77) is the Charles P. Postelle, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.   He is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a fellow of the Royal Institute of Navigation (United Kingdom), recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Sea Turtle Society, and recipient of three university awards for excellence in undergraduate teaching.  He has authored more than 120 published scientific papers on diverse organisms including bacteria, mollusks, lobsters, fishes, sea turtles, marine iguanas, and sea lions.

As a marine biologist with interests in sensory biology, behavior, and neuroscience, Lohmann’s  research addresses one of the great mysteries of marine biology: how sea turtles and other long-distance migrants navigate unerringly across vast expanses of seemingly featureless ocean to arrive at specific locations.  A major discovery resulting from his work is that sea turtles can sense earth’s magnetic field and use it as a kind of map for assessing their geographic position.  This finding paved the way for the discovery of similar “magnetic maps” in diverse animals ranging from lobsters to birds, as well as the ongoing development of novel human navigation systems that are based on geomagnetism instead of GPS satellites.

At WLHS, Lohmann was valedictorian of his class and recipient of a Westinghouse National Science Talent Search Scholarship.  He was also a state champion swimmer and winner of the National Council of Teachers of English writing award. He was Senior class president, swim team co-captain, track team co-captain and worked on The Scarlette.

At Duke University Lohmann earned his BS in zoology (1981) after studying marine biology at the Duke Marine Lab and ran varsity track for 4 years.

Lohmann earned a MS degree at the University of Florida (1983) where he studied marine biology at the University of Florida Whitney Marine Lab and then went on to the University of Washington where he received his Ph.D. (1988).  Lohmann received Postdoctoral training at the University of Illinois, at the Marine Biological Lab in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and at the University of Washington.

Lohmann wrote about WLHS, “Few other public schools in the country provide the same high quality education.  I am forever grateful.”