Kelly Sutherland, Department of Biology

Kelly Sutherland

Kelly Sutherland

Associate Professor
Practice Areas: Marine Biology, Biological Oceanography, Plankton, Jellyfish, Biomechanics, Interactions of Marine Organisms with the Fluid Environment, Underwater Propulsion

Faculty bioSutherland Lab | 541-346-8783

Marine biologist Kelly Sutherland earned a doctorate in biological oceanography from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. In 2020, Sutherland was awarded $1.1 million over three years from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Sutherland, also a member of the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology, has studied jellyfish in the Pacific Ocean off the U.S. West Coast and Panama and in the Mediterranean Sea off France. The National Science Foundation also supports her work. Awarded the Alec and Kay Keith Professorship for her research on the motion of gelatinous zooplankton, Sutherland’s research looks at how gelatinous marine organisms – or “jellies” as she calls them - have evolved highly efficient means of locomotion. This insight may ultimately inform bioinspired transport systems. Her lab group also studies questions relating to zooplankton. Gelatinous zooplankton play an important role in structuring marine food webs and are increasing in number and frequency in some locations due to human impacts.

Recent Media:
The small jelly creatures that link up and swim in corkscrews (Science Friday, May 24, 2024) 
U of O research shows how a sea animal with a 'snot palace' could inspire better pumps (KVAL, Dec. 13, 2023)
Swimming tips from a jellyfish relative (The Naked Scientists BCC, Dec. 2, 2022)
Jellyfish design could inspire swimming robots (The Hill, Nov. 28, 2022)
How jet propelled gelatinous marine organisms could inspire underwater vehicle design (Cosmos, Nov. 30, 2022)
What this jellyfish-like sea creature can teach us about underwater vehicles of the future (Popular Science, Nov. 29, 2022)
This fantastical sea creature helps remove planet-warming gases from the atmosphere (Los Angeles Times, June 7, 2020)
Larvaceans’ underwater ‘snot palaces’ boast elaborate plumbing (Science News, June 15, 2020)
Grant lets marine biologist pursue bioinspired study of jellyfish (Around the O, Jan. 10, 2020)
Pub talk to dive into the idea of jellyfish-inspired submersibles (Around the O, June 6, 2019)
Oregon scientists: Pyrosomes could be here to stay, studies take on urgency (KATU, July 31, 2018)
Sea pickles are settling into the Pacific Northwest (Around the O, July 20, 2018)
Tropical pink 'sea pickles' are invading the waters of the Pacific Northwest (Live Science, July 20, 2018)
Meet the ocean creatures that use a mesh of mucus to catch their food (The Conversation, May 2, 2018)
Researcher helps explain an invasion of weird sea creatures (Around the O, Oct. 20, 2017)
Tens of thousands of bizarre, jelly-like sea creatures wash up on New Zealand beach (Newsweek, Oct. 13, 2017)
Bizarre sea creature could teach humans to do the locomotion (Wired, Aug. 22, 2017)
It’s better to swim alone, yet together, if you’re a salp (The New York Times, Aug. 4, 2017)
Tiny 'jellyfish' team up for multi-jetpack swimming (Live Science, Sept. 15, 2015)