Mya Thompson

Co-Director, Engagement in Science and Nature


Online Learning • Instructional Design • Media Production • Environmental Education • Animal Communication • Science Communication

As Co-Director for Engagement in Science and Nature for the Cornell Lab, I work to activate people through education and citizen science so that together we can gain insight into how natural systems work and address global conservation challenges.

As founder and project leader for Bird Academy, the Lab’s hub for online courses, I spearhead the growth of the platform and the creation of its educational tools and online experiences. This has involved serving as producer for the site’s online courses and authoring a series of web-based interactives and games including Bird Song Hero, Flap to the Future, BeastBox, Wall of Birds, All About Bird Song, All About Fancy Males, and All About Bird Anatomy. I also manage partnerships with external educational platforms including the Google Cultural Institute and BrainPOP to bring the Cornell Lab’s content to broader audiences. In 2016, Bird Academy won a Gold Award in the Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s Circle of Excellence Program for the design and architecture of its website.

As a researcher and one of the founding members of the Elephant Listening Project, I studied the communication networks of African forest elephants and developed a method for estimating the abundance of populations from acoustic data. Elephants, with their infrasonic calls, can communicate with each other over long distances making it possible to monitor elephants acoustically over large forested areas.

I first worked at the Cornell Lab as a high school student, analyzing Song Sparrow and humpback whale recordings for the Bioacoustics Research Program. During those first work experiences, I got a healthy dose of the Lab’s innovative culture and commitment to conservation. It stuck with me. All these years later, after becoming a research biologist and working on science education projects all over the country, it’s rewarding to be back at the Lab working in a role that advances the Lab’s mission to engage and educate people far beyond our walls.


Ph.D., Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University

Beyond the Lab

I serve as a Board Member for the Ithaca Public Education Initiative and authored the picture book Ruby’s Birds and the graphic novel Winged Heroes: For All Birdkind.

Recent Publications

Thompson, M., and C. Dávila (2021). Ruby’s Birds. Scholastic.
Thompson, M., and V. Greene (2021). Winged Heroes: For All Birdkind. Cornell Lab Publishing Group.
Mya Thompson
Center Engagement in Science and Nature
Projects Bird Academy, K–12 Education
Work(607) 254-2104
Website Bird Academy

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Golden-cheeked Warbler by Bryan Calk/Macaulay Library