Current Ph.D. Students

Ashley Blawas

Ashley’s research focuses on the physiological adaptations that enable cetaceans to dive for extended periods of time underwater. By measuring both physiological rates and related molecular markers during resting and active behaviors, she aims to understand how cetaceans adjust their cardiovascular and metabolic processes on a fine-scale to support differing needs during diving and surfacing intervals and the limits of their physiological adaptations.

Ph.D. Candidate, Marine Science & Conservation, Duke University
B.S.E. Biomedical Engineering 2018, Duke University

ashley.blawas@duke.edu
Personal Website | ResearchGateScholars@Duke

Dave Haas

Dave attaches a digital acoustic tag to a Bryde’s whale offshore of Brazil where he has led tagging efforts for a telemetry project for the past five years. [IBAMA Permit] Photo Credit: Rodrigo Hucke-Gaete.

Dave is developing a new digital dive tag for use with cetaceans, called the FaunaTag. The FaunaTag, which features kinematic (movement) and near-infrared bio-optical sensors, is at the center of Dave’s dissertation research, which investigates fine scale changes in cetacean heart rate, tissue perfusion, and blood oxygen saturation as functions of dive depth and activity state. Dave hopes to use the FaunaTag as a tool for understanding baseline cetacean physiology in baleen and toothed whales and how acoustic stimuli (e.g.: mid-frequency active sonar; killer whale acoustic playback) affect baseline physiological and movement patterns. 

Ph.D. Candidate, Marine Science and Conservation, Duke University

B.S. Biology 2013, University of Washington

dave.haas@duke.edu
curriculum vitae | LinkedIn | ResearchGate

Amanda Lohmann

Amanda sails along the western Antarctica peninsula.

Amanda’s research focuses on understanding the factors that drive population size and spatial distribution of Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba), a keystone prey species in the Southern Ocean. She uses acoustic instruments to estimate densities and generate maps of krill near the western Antarctic Peninsula. By understanding how krill populations respond to environmental, oceanographic, and biological variables, she hopes to provide insight into how krill – and therefore the entire Antarctic marine ecosystem – will respond to climate change.

Ph.D. Candidate, University Program in Ecology, Duke University
B.S. Quantitative Biology & Computer Science 2017, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

amanda.lohmann@duke.edu
curriculum vitae

Greg Merrill

Greg (right) works with Sonia Kumar of Alaska Veterinary Pathological Services to remove blubber from a juvenile female humpback whale that stranded in the Turnigain Arm of the Cook Inlet just south of Anchorage, Alaska in May of 2019. [MMHSRP 18786] Photo Credit: Loren Holmes, Anchorage Daily News.

Greg’s dissertation research is broadly focused on assessing the impacts of plastic pollution on the energy mobilization and thermoregulatory capacities of blubber in marine mammals. His previous work has focused on investigating maternal foraging behaviors of Alaskan northern fur seals in an effort to establish an effective and relatively inexpensive long-term monitoring index of foraging success and pup survival.

Ph.D. Student, University Program in Ecology, Duke University
M.Sc. Biological Sciences 2019, University of Alaska Anchorage
B.S. Biological Sciences 2014, University of California – Davis

gregory.merrill@duke.edu
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

charles.muirhead@duke.edu
curriculum vitae | Personal WebsiteLinkedInMendeley | ResearchGate

Jillian Wisse

Jillian’s dissertation work investigates the physiological responses of short-finned pilot whales to naval sonar. By developing analytical chemistry methods for hormone analysis and establishing physiological baselines, she aims to improve our understanding of the behavioral ecology of poorly understood species and how they respond to environmental disturbances, like ocean noise.

Ph.D. Candidate, University Program in Ecology, Duke University
B.S. Biological Sciences 2011, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

jillian.wisse@duke.edu
curriculum vitae

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