Sonke Johnsen


Professor of Biology

Appointments and Affiliations

  • Professor of Biology
  • Faculty Network Member of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences
  • Associate of the Duke Initiative for Science & Society

Contact Information

  • Office Location: 301 Bio Sci Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
  • Office Phone: (919) 660-7321
  • Email Address:
  • Websites:


  • Ph.D. University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, 1996
  • B.A. Swarthmore College, 1988

Courses Taught

  • BIOLOGY 293: Research Independent Study
  • BIOLOGY 427S: Current Topics in Sensory Biology
  • BIOLOGY 493: Research Independent Study
  • BIOLOGY 791T: Tutorial
  • BIOLOGY 792: Research
  • NEUROSCI 391: Neuroscience Independent Scholarship 1: Advanced Topics
  • NEUROSCI 392: Neuroscience Independent Scholarship 2: Advanced Topics
  • NEUROSCI 427S: Current Topics in Sensory Biology

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Ernst, DA; Fitak, RR; Schmidt, M; Derby, CD; Johnsen, S; Lohmann, KJ, Pulse magnetization elicits differential gene expression in the central nervous system of the Caribbean spiny lobster, Panulirus argus., Journal of Comparative Physiology. A, Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology, vol 206 no. 5 (2020), pp. 725-742 [10.1007/s00359-020-01433-7] [abs].
  • Davis, AL; Thomas, KN; Goetz, FE; Robison, BH; Johnsen, S; Osborn, KJ, Ultra-black Camouflage in Deep-Sea Fishes., Current Biology : Cb (2020) [10.1016/j.cub.2020.06.044] [abs].
  • Caves, EM; Schweikert, LE; Green, PA; Zipple, MN; Taboada, C; Peters, S; Nowicki, S; Johnsen, S, Variation in carotenoid-containing retinal oil droplets correlates with variation in perception of carotenoid coloration, Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, vol 74 no. 7 (2020) [10.1007/s00265-020-02874-5] [abs].
  • Davis, AL; Sutton, TT; Kier, WM; Johnsen, S, Evidence that eye-facing photophores serve as a reference for counterillumination in an order of deep-sea fishes., Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, vol 287 no. 1928 (2020) [10.1098/rspb.2019.2918] [abs].
  • Davis, AL; Nijhout, HF; Johnsen, S, Diverse nanostructures underlie thin ultra-black scales in butterflies., Nature Communications, vol 11 no. 1 (2020) [10.1038/s41467-020-15033-1] [abs].