The func­tional dif­fer­ences between organ­isms will pro­vide a crit­ical view into how the effects of global warming may take hold in the future, according to inter­na­tion­ally renowned biol­o­gist George Somero, who spoke at the inau­gural Dis­tin­guished Lec­ture­ship hosted by North­eastern University’s Depart­ment of Biology on Sept. 15.

Somero, the David and Lucile Packard Pro­fessor of Marine Sci­ence at Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity, has con­ducted cutting-​​edge research on how cli­mate change may affect eco­log­ical com­mu­ni­ties. His lec­ture, enti­tled, “A Physiologist’s Per­spec­tive on Cli­mate Change: Pre­dicting the ‘Win­ners’ and ‘Losers’ in a Warming World,” drew an engaged crowd of about 175 in Raytheon Amphithe­ater deeply into the topic.

Which species might be the most vul­ner­able to global warming and what changes may be in store for cer­tain ecosys­tems? Somero said his mol­e­c­ular research could shed light on the answers to these and other cru­cial climate-​​change questions.

In some cases we’ll find an organism that used to occur as far south as San Fran­cisco but now they’re being found [only as far south as] Oregon. So as the oceans have warmed and the air tem­per­a­tures have gone up, organ­isms have changed their dis­tri­b­u­tion pat­terns,” Somero said.

He also pointed to PEW Research Center find­ings last year that he said high­lights a dis­turbing trend—fewer Amer­i­cans see global warming as a serious problem.

The goal of the Depart­ment of Biology’s Dis­tin­guished Lec­ture­ship is to bring accom­plished biol­o­gists to Northeastern’s campus to high­light their out­standing work and the crit­ical impor­tance of the life sci­ences in advancing sci­en­tific under­standing. The lec­ture­ship also empha­sizes Northeastern’s mis­sion to develop inno­v­a­tive, use-​​inspired research that solves global chal­lenges in areas such as health, sus­tain­ability, and security.

We are thrilled to have George Somero as inau­gural speaker of the Dis­tin­guished Biology Lec­ture at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity,” said Gün­ther K. H. Zupanc, pro­fessor and chair of the Depart­ment of Biology. “The impli­ca­tions of his schol­arly activ­i­ties reach far beyond science—they pro­vide the sci­en­tific basis for impor­tant polit­ical deci­sions that will affect our daily lives.”

Somero is the asso­ciate director of the Hop­kins Marine Sta­tion at Stan­ford and a senior fellow at the university’s Woods Insti­tute for the Environment.

He is a member of the National Academy of Sci­ences and a Fellow of the Amer­ican Asso­ci­a­tion for the Advance­ment of Sci­ence. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Car­leton Col­lege and his PhD at Stanford.