As an ecologist, educator and mentor, my job is to nurture curiosity and train students to become independent, critical thinkers who practice and appreciate the scientific method. I hope to motivate a deeper interest in the physical and biological interactions that shape ecosystems, while empowering students to access and interpret scientific knowledge. I encourage my students to be outstanding citizens, as well as scientists, and strive to improve their appreciation for the natural world. I believe forming these connections creates a deeper understanding and a richer life for everyone.
My current research is focused on using long term acoustic recordings to study marine ecosystems. I'm finding ways to recognize dolphin species based on the sounds that they make and observe the behavior of these species over time. I look for patterns in the presence and behavior of animals in an area, and relate those patterns to environmental conditions and human activities, with the hope of deciphering what is important to the dolphins. The aim is to learn how dolphins interact with the ecosystem and what they need to be healthy. If we understand that, hopefully we can minimize the negative impacts our (fishing, shipping, construction, etc) activities have on the ecosystem.
Acoustic monitoring provides an excellent window to observe habitats that may be in remote locations or for rare species that may be hard to detect visually. Acoustic recordings allow us to track behavior on fine and long-term time scales, which often is hard to do. Like so many things in life, when investigating a new organism or habitat, you can learn a lot by listening!
In addition to my research, I am enthusiastic about providing opportunities for students to conduct authentic, independent research to gain the skills necessary to succeed in STEM careers. I am open to serving students of all backgrounds, but to support the creativity and diversity needed for the advancement of science, I have a particular interest in serving students that come from backgrounds historically underrepresented in STEM fields. Positive role models can change the course of a young person’s life, and I will continue to guide and inspire students to explore their world through science.