Photograph of Prof. Edward DeLong

Prof. Edward DeLong. Photograph by L. Barry Hetherington.

If you flip through the new issue of the PNAS, you’ll notice a profile of MIT professor Edward DeLong. DeLong is known for his work in marine microbiology, and he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2008. The article begins with his youthful ocean adventures:

Every year, gray whales travel up and down the Pacific coast, migrating between the Bering Sea and Baja California. In the mid-1970s, Northern California amateur skin diver Edward DeLong tried to swim out to meet them. With his sights set on some of the ocean’s largest creatures, DeLong was oblivious to the microecosystem swirling around him in the cool water. Instead, his fascination for the vast and mysterious ocean impelled him to reach for the huge, shadowy whales in the distance.

But the unseen marine world—the microorganisms that were then largely unknown to DeLong and to science—became the ultimate object of his fascination. Today, DeLong is a marine microbiologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Over the years, he has probed genetic clues to uncover long-held secrets of the sea, including the composition and function of microbial communities from Hawaii to Antarctica. DeLong has learned that studying a reservoir of life as large and diverse as the ocean can lead to unexpected discoveries. “We’re continually being surprised,” he says. Continue reading at PNAS.

Prof. DeLong teaches an introductory course at MIT called Ecology I: The Earth System. You can peruse the course’s syllabus, lecture notes, project, and more on OCW.