Sönke Johnsen chose to study physics at Swarthmore College in the 1980s because it was close to a family friend’s hardware store. That’s just one of many paths for Johnsen that led him to help capture the first video of a giant squid in U.S. waters, writes Carter Forinash for The Chronicle.
His physics dream was short-lived, as he jumped to mathematics, then, on a dare, biology.
“We each went through the alphabet and I stopped at B for biology for no good reason,” Johnsen said. “We literally dared each other to go to graduate school in a subject from the alphabet.”
In between mathematics and biology, he set up a daycare center, taught kindergarten and first grade, and worked as a carpenter.
Johnsen was a professor of biology at Duke University by the time of the squid sighting June 20.
Johnsen, with a team of researchers around the country, led a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration exploration cruise that brought back the squid footage.
It was not his first time in the spotlight.
He was cited by novelist Michael Crichton as a scientific source for “The Lost World,” the sequel to “Jurassic Park.”
Read more about Johnsen’s career, and a giant squid, here.