Current Ph.D. Students

Greg Merrill

Greg scans the horizon for dolphins from which to collect a biopsy sample.

Greg’s dissertation research is broadly focused on assessing the impacts of plastic pollution on the energy metabolism of blubber in marine mammals. Do microplastics translocate into organs around the bodies of whales after ingestion? And if so, what are the consequences? His work employs a variety of field and laboratory techniques to apply principles of ectoxicology to elicit impacts of microplastic exposure on marine mammals, namely utilizing   biopsy explants and in vitro cell lines. Greg is also interested in  determining sensory explanations that drive plastic consumption, particularly for deep-diving echolocating toothed-whales that are
presumably not utilizing visual ques at depth to hunt.

Ph.D. Candidate, University Program in Ecology, Duke University
M.Sc. Biological Sciences 2019, University of Alaska Anchorage
B.S. Biological Sciences 2014, University of California – Davis
curriculum vitae | LinkedIn | Scholars@Duke

 Charles Muirhead

Charlie (right) and Aladino Sandoval share ideas on the best recording locations for an acoustic survey of river dolphins in the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, Perú. See published results here.

Since 2007 Charlie has worked as a bioacoustics analyst characterizing the seasonal movements and distribution of whales and dolphins throughout the world’s oceans. Geospatial variation in noise exposure, bycatch, and ship strike risk was a central theme in this research. His dissertation will focus on large-scale monitoring and status assessment of river dolphins in the Amazon basin; emphasizing cost-effective methods that can be readily standardized and adopted by researchers throughout South America.

Ph.D. Student Marine Science & Conservation, Duke University
M.Sc. Environmental Science 2018, University of Massachusetts at Boston
B.S. Biology 2006, State University of New York at Cortland
curriculum vitae | Personal WebsiteLinkedInMendeley | ResearchGate

Taylor Machette

Ph.D. Student Marine Science & Conservation, Duke University

Nick Kaney

Nick’s broad research interests examine marine mammal behavior through a bioacoustics lens. This interest has led him to analyze remote sensing datasets of offshore species such as North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) and Goose beaked whales (Ziphius cavirostris). He has also conducted behavioral sampling and play-back experiments of nearshore species like bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris). Nick plans to build off these research experiences to look at marine mammal behavior and communication to inform conservation efforts.  

Ph.D. Student Marine Science & Conservation, Duke University
B.S. Biology 2023, Duke University

Project Manager: WoW

Kristin Hodge

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