Ludcke Lecture

What a strange trip it's been: Or how I learned to love phytoplankton

St. Francis Room, Ketchum Library
Biddeford Campus
Stephan Zeeman

Free and open to the public

Professor Zeeman's presentation details his career in scholarly activity that has focused on understanding processes in nature. He reviews the evolution of his thought and focus from terrestrial landscapes to lakes and oceans, and finally to the intersection of land and sea.

In the process, Professor Zeeman discusses his research on phytoplankton (microscopic algae) and their photosynthesis as it relates to ecosystems and food webs within them. The importance of phytoplankton stems from the fact that an estimated 73 to 87 percent of the net global production of oxygen is derived from algal photosynthesis. They are also the base of most food webs in the oceans, and thus may control the viability of those webs to maintain themselves.

The Ludcke Chair

In 2004, Eleanor Ludcke, 1926 Westbrook College alumnae, bequeathed to Westbrook College an endowed professorship to be awarded annually to a tenured member of the faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences in recognition of their accomplishments.

The Ludcke Chair has two components: a one-year tenure as chair holder, allowing many faculty members in the UNE College of Arts and Science to be recognized for their high achievement as a teacher/scholar, and a stipend for the chair holder to use in support of his or her scholarship.  The chair holder must be a dedicated educator and productive researcher who has given generously of his time to the University of New England over a significant period.

Professor Zeeman

Zeeman is a widely published oceanographer who has received numerous grants from NASA, NOAA and the National Science Foundation and has participated in many research cruises around the world. 

Most recently, Zeeman, as project director, along with Susan Hillman, Ph.D., professor of education, and Charles Tilburg, Ph.D., professor of physics and marine sciences, was awarded a $2.8M grant from NSF in support of an innovative project designed to partner University of New England researchers and their graduate students with the local K-12 community.

The project will engage students and teachers in six Maine school districts in inquiry-based learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics by looking at interrelationships of physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics and geology in a local watershed using the Saco River Coastal Observing System.

Zeeman earned his Ph.D., in marine science from the University of South Carolina, Columbia. His expertise is in oceanography, phytoplankton, primary production, remote sensing, geographic information systems and Bering Sea ecosystems.

His current research focuses on food web dynamics, phytoplankton production, and the effects of climate change and land use on land-sea interactions.

Zeeman recently received national publicity as a member of a research team that discovered where basking sharks – the world's second largest fish – hide out for half of every year. The discovery revises scientists' understanding of the iconic species and highlights just how little we still know about even the largest of marine animals.

The research was featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN.com, The London Timesonline, The Christian Science Monitor and numerous other news sources.


St. Francis Room, Ketchum Library
United States

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