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WHOI Biologist Ketten Named AAAS 2012 Fellow


November 29, 2012

Darlene Ketten of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Election as an AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers.

A marine biologist and neuro-anatomist specializing in functional analyses and biomedical imaging of sensory systems, Ketten was elected as an AAAS Fellow for contributions to the understanding of the biophysics of hearing in mammals and for development of ultra-high resolution imaging for diagnosis of hearing impairments.

Ketten is among 702 members awarded this honor in 2012 by AAAS because of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. New Fellows will be presented with an official certificate and a gold and blue (representing science and engineering, respectively) rosette pin on Saturday, February 16, 2013, at the AAAS Fellows Forum during the 2013 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston, Mass.

This year’s AAAS Fellows will be formally announced in the AAAS News & Notes section of the journal Science on November 30, 2012.

Ketten earned a B. A. from Washington University (Biology and French, 1971), an M. S. from M.I.T. (Biological Oceanography, 1979), and a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University (jointly awarded neuroanatomy, behavioral ecology, and experimental radiology, 1984). Her work is a blend of modern biomedical imaging, forensics, and biophysical models of hearing in both humans and marine mammals.

In 2002, Ketten joined the staff of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, where she is a senior scientist in the Biology Department. She has a joint appointment as an assistant professor in Otology and Laryngology, Harvard Medical School.

Her research focuses on two areas: how structural differences in marine vs. terrestrial mammal ears relate to physical differences, habitats, and feeding behaviors and how electrode placement and inner ear pathologies impact hearing and the effectiveness of hearing aids and inner ear prostheses.

In the course of her work, she also employs her forensic training to conduct necropsies and assists with autopsies, particularly those requiring expertise in head and neck trauma, neuropathology, and auditory pathology. To date she has assisted with or conducted radiological exams on over 1000 cases covering more than 100 species.  Details of Ketten’s research are available on her lab website at

The tradition of AAAS Fellows began in 1874. Currently, members can be considered for the rank of Fellow if nominated by the steering groups of the Association’s 24 sections, or by any three Fellows who are current AAAS members (so long as two of the three sponsors are not affiliated with the nominee’s institution), or by the AAAS chief executive officer.

Each steering group then reviews the nominations of individuals within its respective section and a final list is forwarded to the AAAS Council, which votes on the aggregate list.

The Council is the policymaking body of the Association, chaired by the AAAS president, and consisting of the members of the board of directors, the retiring section chairs, delegates from each electorate and each regional division, and two delegates from the National Association of Academies of Science.

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The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a private, non-profit organization on Cape Cod, Mass., dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, its primary mission is to understand the ocean and its interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the ocean’s role in the changing global environment.

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The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal, Science ( as well as Science Translational Medicine ( and Science Signaling ( AAAS was founded in 1848, and includes 261 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of 1 million. The non-profit AAAS ( is open to all and fulfills its mission to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!,, the premier science-news Web site, a service of AAAS.