William Gilly, Ph.D

William Gilly is a Professor of Biology at Stanford University based at Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, CA. He received a B.S.E. in electrical engineering from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in physiology and biophysics from Washington University after carrying out his thesis research at Yale University Medical School. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania in the Departments of Biology and Physiology and began working with squid during this time at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA.

His research has ranged from biophysical and molecular analyses of excitability mechanisms in nerve and muscle cells of a variety of invertebrates, but primarily squid, to oceanographic changes in the Gulf of California and Monterey Bay. His group was the first (and only) to deploy pop-up satellite tags and video-monitoring devices (National Geographic Crittercam) on large Humboldt squid to record their second-to-second vertical movements and color-changing behaviors. His current research focuses on the physiological mechanisms controlling skin-color change in squid and the influence of climatic anomalies and changing oceanographic conditions on the life history of Humboldt squid in the Gulf of California.

His work has often been featured in popular media, including the Ultimate Explorer episode “Devils of the Deep” on National William Gilly is a Professor of Biology at Stanford University based at Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, CA. He received a B.S.E. in electrical engineering from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in physiology and biophysics from Washington University after carrying out his thesis research at Yale University Medical School. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania in the Departments of Biology and Physiology and began working with squid during this time at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA.

His research has ranged from biophysical and molecular analyses of excitability mechanisms in nerve and muscle cells of a variety of invertebrates, but primarily squid, to oceanographic changes in the Gulf of California and Monterey Bay. His group was the first (and only) to deploy pop-up satellite tags and video-monitoring devices (National Geographic Crittercam) on large Humboldt squid to record their second-to-second vertical movements and color-changing behaviors. His current research focuses on the physiological mechanisms controlling skin-color change in squid and the influence of climatic anomalies and changing oceanographic conditions on the life history of Humboldt squid in the Gulf of California.

His work has often been featured in popular media, including the Ultimate Explorer episode “Devils of the Deep” on National Geographic TV, “Cannibal Squid” on Dangerous Encounters with Brady Barr, in popular magazines (Discover, Outside, BioScience) and on National Geographic News online posts. His lab group carries out the the popular K-12 outreach program, Squids4Kids, and contributes to Science Friday’s “Cephalopod Week.” In 2004 he was Director and Chief Scientist for the Sea of Cortez Exploration and Education Project that retraced the 1940 expedition to the Sea of Cortez by John Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts on the Western Flyer. He is currently developing a marine field station for research and education in the Gulf of California with the technical college Instituto Tecnológico Superior de Mulege, Santa Rosalia, BCS, and The Ocean Foundation, Washington, DC. He also co-directs, with Susan Shillinglaw, a summer institute on John Steinbeck funded by the National Endowment for Humanities for high-school teachers that bridges science and literature.