Dr. Szabo received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, and most recently was awarded his doctorate in Wildlife Science from Oregon State University. He joined AWF in 2000 as a graduate student studying the behavior of female humpback whales and their calves in Southeast Alaska. Over the years, his focus has broadened to include humpback whale foraging ecology, communication and the ecology of their prey. Since 2006, Andy has been coordinating AWF’s growing number of research projects. Dr. Szabo is also an Adjunct Professor of Marine Biology at the University of Alaska Southeast, where he has taught several biology courses and mentored undergraduate students conducting their own independent research projects. As well, Andy is a courtesy faculty member at Oregon State University’s Marine Resource Management Program, where he is currently advising graduate student Michelle Fournet. In addition to his interests in whales and marine ecology, Andy is an avid birdwatcher and has traveled around North, Central and South America and the British Isles in search of feathered critters.
Dr. Sharpe received his doctorate from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada in 2002. His research on humpback whales in Southeast Alaska has been a centerpiece of AWF since the organization’s inception. Fred has been tenacious in his quest to understand the whales’ social foraging behavior, known as “bubble net feeding”. This research has attracted some of AWF’s most interesting collaborators, including National Geographic Society’s Crittercam team, the SETI Institute, and the University of California Davis. His research has provided unique insight into the humpback’s world and has given him the knowledge and experience to be a valued resource to the Alaskan Marine Mammal Stranding Network. In addition to focusing on whales, Dr. Sharpe is also an expert on birds and plant life of the Pacific Northwest (he holds a Bachelor’s degree in botany from the University of Washington), and he is an excellent pen and ink illustrator. His handiwork can be seen in the books, Birding in the San Juan Islands and Wild Plants of the San Juan Islands.
The Sharpe family is large and has been generous in their support of AWF from the beginning. Fred’s brother Pat is no exception. Pat’s expertise as a 200-ton licensed boat captain and shipwright continues to help AWF meet the challenge of maintaining and safely operating our vessels in Southeast Alaska’s challenging marine environment. When not in Alaska captaining vessels, Pat owns his own business, Pat Sharpe Yacht Service, in Port Townsend, Washington, where he lives with his family.
Pieter is a naturalist, artist, publisher, and USCG-licensed captain. He has been involved in marine mammal research in Alaska since the late 70’s. His academic interests include marine mammal morphology and behavior, paleontology, and osteology. In addition to his work with AWF, he has discovered three unique species or archaic whales (one a unique genus). His osteological work includes “The Human Bone Manual” with Tim White, the third edition of “Human Osteology” with Tim White and Michael Black, and important studies on bone trauma in whales caused by ship strikes. In his spare time he is an Emergency Medical First Responder, Wilderness Searcher and Water Rescue Tech with a Northern California Search and Rescue Team. Pieter has previously served as an adjunct professor of Science Communication, Division of Natural Sciences at University of California, Santa Cruz. His business, A Higher Porpoise Design Group, is best known for marine mammal field guides (published in nine languages) and life size sculptures of marine mammals for museums and motion pictures. Examples include a life-size bowhead whale for the Inupiat Heritage Center in Barrow, Alaska and cinematic cetaceans for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the Free Willy movies, White Squall, seaQuest DSV, Flipper, Failure to Launch, and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. As a charter member of the Society of Marine Mammalogy, he is well known for the Society posters commemorating their biennial international conferences. Signed copies of these posters, books, and field guides, including the popular National Audubon Society Guide to Marine Mammals of the World.
Sara joined AWF as a volunteer in 2002 and took on the responsibilities of Stranding Coordinator in 2006. In this capacity, she acts as the liaison between the National Marine Fisheries Service, the general public, and AWF, and when we receive a report of a stranded animal, Sara mobilizes and directs our efforts. Sara is an Emergency First Responder and PADI Certified Open Water Diver. By profession, Sara is a classical music composer and an Associate Professor of Music at California State University, Los Angeles. She received her doctorate in composition in 2000 from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
Brenda is an animal behaviorist who received her Ph.D. in Biological Anthropology from Harvard University. Her areas of scientific interest is in behavioral biology and ecology with an emphasis on both the basic and applied aspects of animal behavior and communication for enhancing wildlife health and conservation, captive exotic species and laboratory animal management, and domesticated animal production, health and well-being. Brenda directs the primate behavioral management program at the California National Primate Research Center. She has been contributing to the field of cetacean research and marine mammal science in general for more than 20 years. Some of her most significant research in this field established a mathematical method for categorizing bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) whistles and applying information theory to provide insight into the structure and organizational complexity of dolphins’ whistle communication.
Lawrence is an astrophysicist who specializes in pattern recognition techniques. He received his PhD from the University of Heidelberg in Germany where he studied the structure of the planet Saturn’s rings, and has applied his expertise to finding Earth-size planets around twin stars using ground-based telescopes. Laurance’s background in pattern recognition has led him to study communication theory. Together, Dr. Doyle and AWF have been examining the characteristics and function of humpback whale communication.
Adam is a freelance web designer and photographer, and was Chief Mate for Lindblad Expeditions on the National Geographic Sea Lion. Adam teamed up with AWF to help their cause by redesigning, and managing this web site.
Michelle Fournet is the Rapunzel Project field leader and co-investigator. She is a graduate student at Oregon State University in the College of Earth Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences (CEOAS) pursuing a Master’s of Science degree in Marine Resource Management. Her current research seeks to understand the impact of vessel noise on humpback whale communication and behavior, with particular emphasis on social sounds. She received a BFA from Boston University and completed two years of post baccalaureate work in anthropology and biology at the University of Alaska Southeast. Her relationship with humpback whales began when she moved to Juneau, AK in 2007 to work as a marine naturalist. She participated as a research assistant for a number of Alaskan whale projects, helped to orchestrate a Juneau area citizen science initiative, and with the help of her graduate advisor Dr. Andy Szabo she got the Rapunzel Project off of the ground in 2011.
AWF is indebted to the numerous volunteers that have supported us in so many ways. Their efforts, capabilities, and passion are the backbone of many programs. Read about our past volunteers and hear their testimonials.