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PhD Student


I am interested in the underwater acoustic communication of Hawaiian monk seals. Using passive acoustic recorders and multi-sensor tags, I hope to enhance our understanding of Hawaiian monk seal acoustic communication and assess the impact of man-made noise on their behavior and vocal activity. Through this research, I hope to inform conservation and management decisions to better protect this endangered species.


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Kirby is currently a fourth year PhD student in the MMRP. She is from the small town of Fort Gibson, Oklahoma. Kirby earned a B.S. in Marine Science from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL in 2016 and a M.S. in Ocean Sciences from the University of California Santa Cruz in 2018. While working at the Pinniped Cognition and Sensory Systems Laboratory at UCSC, Kirby became interested in pinnipeds and acoustics and completed her thesis on Hawaiian monk seal underwater vocalizations. Kirby was also a U.S. Fulbright Scholar at the University of Southern Denmark where she combined unmanned aerial vehicles and passive acoustic recorders to study the mating behaviors of harbor seals. She is a member of the Cherokee Nation and is a recipient of the Gates Millennium Scholarship; a scholarship funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation that pays for 10 full years of post-secondary education. 





Sills JM, Parnell K, Ruscher B, Lew C, Kendall TL, Reichmuth C (2021) Underwater hearing and communication in the endangered Hawaiian monk seal Neomonachus schauinslandi. Endang Species Res 44:61-78.


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