My research interests include the behavior and conservation of Hawaiian monk seals. Using a suit of new technologies including passive acoustics, animal-borne tags, and unmanned aerial vehicles, I hope to answer questions regarding their vocal repertoire, seasonal trends in sound production, and the function of vocalizations, as well as assess the impact of man-made noise on their behavior and vocal activity. I am especially interested in using underwater vocalizations produced by adult male seals to monitor this endangered species.
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Kirby is currently a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Southern Denmark studying harbor seal communication. 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. With her Fulbright concluding this May, Kirby looks forward to beginning a Ph.D. in Marine Biology at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa to continue her research on Hawaiian monk seal communication and reproduction. Kirby 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.