MacArthur Fellows Program

Barbara Block

Marine Biologist | Class of 1996

Marine Biologist
Stanford, California
38 at time of award

Barbara Block is a marine-animal physiologist who studies the physiology, ecology, and evolution of tuna, billfish, and other open-ocean fishes.

Her research is focused on how large pelagic fishes utilize the open-ocean environment.  Block has investigated the mechanism by which some of these species actively regulate their brain temperature by using specially adapted eye muscles.  She has analyzed the genes that account for this thermogenesis in order to understand the evolution of heat generation and temperature control.  In addition, she has devised methods for tracking individual fish in their habitat in order to examine their physiological ecology.  These studies combine to form a comprehensive picture of these animals, from the molecular to the behavioral, providing invaluable data for better management of our marine resources.  Block has also been instrumental in establishing the first captive population of tuna in North America for research and conservation.

Block is the Charles & Elizabeth Prothro Professor in Marine Sciences at Stanford University and a co-director of the university’s Tuna Research and Conservation Center.

Block received a B.A. (1980) from the University of Vermont and a Ph.D. (1986) from Duke University.

Last updated January 1, 2005

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