Senior Scientist; Professor
Acoustic Ecology • Behavioral Ecology • Bioacoustics • Animal Communication • Bio-engineering
I love and am addicted to music and song. To me the whole world is singing.
As a lover of nature, I listen to the voices and songs of whales, birds, elephants, crickets, fish, frogs, shrimp, etc. As a scientist in the Bioacoustics Research Program, I study how and why animals listen to and produce sounds to communicate, navigate, find food, maintain social networks, and survive.
The research of my colleagues and I indicates that noise pollution from human activities can have and is having multiple impacts on ocean life. These results have motivated me to become a strong scientific advocate and leader for the protection of natural quiet.
I started out as an engineer; shifted to biomedical engineer; was in a MD-PhD program in auditory prosthetics (hearing aids); by serendipity met a scientist-family and joined them on a National Geographic expedition to Patagonia, Argentina; ended up doing a Ph.D. in neurobiology and behavioral, and a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) post-doc in birdsong. In 1987, I came to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to start the Bioacoustics Research Program. The rest is history!
Though I am officially retired from the Lab, I continue to progress a new, ecologically based paradigm for evaluating and measuring biological risks from human-made noise on wildlife of all shapes and sizes.
Stony Brook University
Favorite Encounters, Favorite Things
Lying beneath the Southern Cross on a beach in Patagonia while listening to whales snoring 50 feet away; midnight and 40 below zero on the arctic ice off Point Barrow, Alaska as steam rises from the ocean, whales appear to be flying in the sky, and the sun drapes itself across the frozen horizon; hearing a blue whale singing across the Atlantic Ocean (off Ireland while listening off Virginia); listening to the absolute cacophony of life explode after sunset in the Dzanga Forest, Central African Republic; listening to ocean breathing; listening to ocean life beneath the frozen Arctic Ocean; Outer Cape Cod saltmarshes; surfing; blueberries; beach plums and oysters.