Kirby Parnell, M.Sc.
Kirby is from Tahlequah, Oklahoma, the capital of the Cherokee Nation. She earned her B.Sc. in Marine Science at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida (2016) and her M.Sc. in Ocean Sciences at the University of California Santa Cruz (2018). Her courses were mostly oceanography based, but she fell in love with the field of bioacoustics after completing a senior research project on bottlenose dolphin acoustic communication in Tampa Bay. Kirby's master's thesis provided the first description of the underwater vocal repertoire of the endangered Hawaiian monk seal. She is currently a fourth-year Ph.D. student at the MMRP at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānao where she continues to research the underwater vocal behavior of free-ranging Hawaiian monk seals using passive acoustic monitoring devices and seal-mounted, multi-sensor tags (AKA: a Fitbit for seals). Kirby's college education has been fully funded by the Gates Millennium Scholarship, a need- and merit-based scholarship for minority students provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Kirby Parnell developed and co-taught an afterschool program on marine mammals at the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Cruz, California and was a science educator for the Pinniped Lab during the Seymour Center’s Ocean Explorers Summer Camp. She hopes to one day teach marine mammalogy and bioacoustics for undergraduates, as well as kick-start summer programs, like SMMILE, for historically marginalized groups in STEM. In her spare time, Kirby likes to play slowpitch softball, hang out at the beach, and of course, observe wild monk seals (and other wildlife).