Welcome to the Nowacek Acoustics and Engineering Lab</p> Part of the Marine Conservation Ecology group at the Duke Marine Lab

Our lab combines research in marine mammal bioacoustics and behavioral ecology with the development of new tools for oceanographic research. Dr. Nowacek holds joint appointments in the Nicholas School of the Environment and the Pratt School of Engineering. Through this unique combination, we work in the novel area of Marine Conservation Technology.

Mammal Bioacoustics

Mammal Bioacoustics

We study the acoustic behavior of marine mammals via collaboration with existing tagging programs and using standalone passive and digital acoustic monitors. This approach enables us to learn about the effects of anthropogenic noise on animal behavior, since sound propagates very efficiently through sea water.

Tagging Projects

Behavioral Ecology

Behavioral Ecology

The behavioral ecology of marine animals (e.g., foraging behavior, social behavior and communication) is important to understanding the long-term fitness of a species. Our studies involve tagging programs and observations in the field, as well as predictive modeling in the lab to better protect species of interest.


Conservation Technology

Conservation Technology

Oceanographic research relies heavily on data collection technology, especially in this era of increased capabilities of miniaturized electronics and unmanned vehicles. We develop new technologies for marine conservation research ranging from unmanned aerial systems, sensor development, to integrated acoustics.

Learn More

Engineering Students Seek a Better Way to Track Endangered Marine Mammals

Last spring, Duke undergraduates Ashley Blawas (Biomedical Engineering), Brandon Dalla Rosa (Electrical & Computer Engineering) and Sam Kelly (Mechanical Engineering) received a Follow-on Student Research Award to improve on the research methods employed by their Bass Connections team History and Future of Ocean Energy. Mentored by Douglas Nowacek, they aim to produce a digital

Hot off the press: Studying cetacean behaviour: new technological approaches and conservation applications

Animal behaviour can provide valuable information for wildlife management and conservation. We describe several methods developed by marine mammal scientists to study behaviour, primarily of cetaceans, focusing on technological advances: unmanned aerial systems (UAS), satellite-linked telemetry, passive acoustics and multisensor high-resolution acoustic recording tags. We then go on to explain how the data collected

Opportunities for PhD students in 2018

The Ph.D. program requires completion of a dissertation containing the results of original and substantive research. Typically, graduate students spend several years conducting field or laboratory work after completion of courses and successful defense of their preliminary examinations. All Ph.D. students are supported by an external fellowship, a Research Assistantship,