I am a marine biologist who aspires to use bioacoustics to reimagine conservation planning efforts. My research is anchored in biological oceanography, behavioral ecology, and conservation policy. As a Ph.D. student, I strive to use passive acoustic monitoring to research high-risk marine species and ecosystems under anthropogenic pressures. I will detect the presence and ranges of marine mammals across both space and time. Ultimately, I will use this information to design dynamic ecosystem management. My priority is to put forward effective and equitable socio-ecological solutions for ocean management. I am delighted to be supported by the Sloan Fellowship for my graduate studies at Cornell.
My previous work has been on North Atlantic right whales — a critically endangered cetacean with fewer than 400 individuals left. Using acoustics, I have tracked their seasonal presence in Cape Cod Bay. I have also done field work in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, observing humpback whale behavior, and in the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, conducting fish surveys. During my time at Harvard, I served as President of the Harvard College Conservation Society, where I managed projects between students and non-profit conservation organizations both regionally and internationally.
A public lecture at the Ocean Institute in Dana Point, California inspired me to pursue bioacoustics when I was sixteen years old. As such, I believe in the power of scientific communication, and it’s deeply embedded in my identity as a scientist. I have told stories about dolphin whistles, invasive algae, and octopus gardens for NOAA Sanctuaries. I have also told the story of the endangered Southern Resident killer whale for the Duke University Marine Lab’s Seas the Day podcast. My work can be found at marissagarcia.me.
When I am not being a scientist for the ocean, I am a scientist in the kitchen — experimenting with all things coffee! I am always excited to wax poetic about the latest beans I’m brewing.
Year Hired: 2021
Organizational affiliations and Memberships: Acoustical Society of America, Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, Society of Environmental Journalists
Ph.D., Natural Resources, Cornell University, in progress
A.B., Integrative Biology, Highest Honors, Harvard University, 2021