Our People

Taylor Cook


PhD Student, Georgetown University, USA
Email: tcc55@georgetown.edu

Taylor joined the Mann lab in 2016. She plans to study the development, stability, and ecological consequences of personality in wild bottlenose dolphins. Before coming to Georgetown, Taylor earned a B.S. in Biology from UCLA where she worked in the Blumstein lab studying everything from marmot behavior to sea anemone personality to roadkill ecology. She then worked for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife as a scientific aid collecting data on recreational fisheries. Taylor was also a research assistant for the Ocean Conservation Society studying cetaceans in Santa Monica Bay before moving to Georgetown.

Return to Researchers

Alexis Levengood

Alexis underwater

PhD Student, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia
Email: alexis.levengood@research.usc.edu.au

I am a behavioral ecologist with a passion for marine mammals and a focus in social evolution. I received my B.A. in Biology and Environmental Studies with a minor in Psychology from Connecticut College in 2010. Following my graduation, I spent two years traveling and completing an assortment of behavioral ecology research internships working on species such as the Florida manatee, great white sharks, and varying species of dolphins and whales. In 2013, I graduated from the University of St Andrews, Scotland with masters of research (M.Res) in Marine Mammal Science. Currently, I am a PhD candidate at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia working under Dr. Celine Frère on the social plasticity of female bottlenose dolphins in Shark Bay, Western Australia.

Return to Researchers

Madison Miketa

Madison Miketa

PhD Student, Georgetown University, USA
Email: mlm314@georgetown.edu

I am primarily interested in social behavior and complex cognitive abilities in marine species. I hope to apply my research to further conservation and management of the species.

I graduated from Brown University in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a focus on Animal Behavior. My Honors thesis examined the biogeographical patterns exhibited by all shark species worldwide under the guidance of Dr. Dov Sax.

Over the last few years I have worked in a variety of labs studying navigation in sea turtles (with Dr. Kenneth Lohmann and Dr. Catherine Lohmann), ontogenetic changes in sharks (with Dr. Jamie Seymour), movement patterns in sharks (with Dr. Jonathan Werry), development in Zebra fish (with Dr. Ruth Colwill), learning and problem solving in sea lions (with Dr. Colleen Reichmuth), behavioral responses to seismic surveys in humpback whales (with Dr. Mike Noad and Dr. Rebecca Dunlop), numerical cognition in primates (with Dr. Elizabeth Brannon), and social behavior in lemurs (with Dr. Christine Drea). I hope my previous experiences will help me use an interdisciplinary approach to my research at Shark Bay.

Return to Researchers

Caitlin Karniski

Caitlin with turtle

PhD Student, Georgetown University, USA
Email: cbk27@georgetown.edu

I joined the lab in 2011 shortly after graduating from Georgetown, and have worked in the field as a research assistant in the fall of 2011 and 2012. Prior to starting as Research Associate, I worked as a research technician at Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute on a manatee radiotelemetry project, and have also contributed to projects with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation, Sarasota Dolphin Research Program, World Wildlife Fund, and the research lab of Dr. Tim Beach of Georgetown University. My research interests are concerned with the evolutionary drivers of senescence in cetaceans, and how these drivers may impact reproduction.

Return to Researchers

Megan Wallen

Postdoctoral Scientist, Georgetown University, USA
Email: mmw89@georgetown.edu
Meg at Pinnacles


Meg is studying adult female behavior, ecology, and factors associated with variation in female reproductive success in the Shark Bay population. She earned her B.S. in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology from the University of Michigan in 2010. Before joining the Mann lab in 2011, she was a field assistant studying the behavioral ecology of the spotted hyena in Kenya under Dr. Kay Holekamp. She successfully defended her dissertation on "Social Factors Affecting Female Behavior, Ecology, and Fitness in Wild Bottlenose Dolphins" in December 2016.

Return to Researchers

Lara Delgado

Research Associate, University of Southern Denmark
Email: lara_6_a_secas@hotmail.com

Lara Delgado completed her 4 years Licenciatura in Biology specializing in “Organisms and Systems” at the University of Barcelona (UB), and did her 2 years Masters at the University of Southern Denmark, specializing in marine mammals, behaviour and conservation, and completing a thesis entitled “Social interactions of harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena).” She has collaborated in several occasions with the University of Southern Denmark for different research projects.

Return to Researchers

Vivienne Foroughirad


Surveying from jetty

PhD Student, Duke University, USA
Email: vjf2@duke.edu

I began working on the Shark Bay Dolphin Project as an undergraduate research assistant in 2008 and then never left! I am now a PhD student in the Marine Science and Conservation program at Duke University. My interests lie at the intersection of evolutionary biology and behavioral ecology, and how these domains can be used to understand the development of ecotypes and intraspecies variation in delphinids. As part of my PhD research I am hoping both to study both the evolution of foraging strategies in bottlenose dolphins and social systems in short-finned pilot whales. I also hope to apply any knowledge gleaned from these projects to both the management of ecotourism programs and the designation of protected areas.

Return to Researchers

Shaelynn Sleater-Squires

PhD Student, University of California-Los Angeles, USA

Broadly speaking, I am interested in the evolution of behavior. I am particularly curious about how genetic variation and gene regulation shape behavioral traits and how behavioral variation in individuals generates evolutionary change in populations at the molecular level. For my graduate research in the Wayne Lab, I am exploring how the genetic architecture of nonapeptide-related gene pathways contributes to social behavioral variation across canid species and also among individual wild gray wolves (Canis lupus) in Yellowstone National Park. Additionally, I am exploring differential gene expression associated with environmentally-induced stressors, especially pollutants, in wild dolphin (Delphinus and Tursiops spp.) populations using high-throughput sequencing of RNA (RNA-seq) from blubber and skin samples in collaboration with Annabel Beichman and Sergio Nigenda-Morales.

Prior to joining the Wayne Lab, I worked as a Research Associate on the Shark Bay Dolphin Project with Dr. Janet Mann. As part of my continued association with this project, I am currently investigating the use of behavioral data in estimating the length of gestation in our Shark Bay study population of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops sp.). I obtained my B.S. in biology and psychology from Georgetown University in 2009 where I conducted my undergraduate thesis research on the genetic basis of photoperiodic diapause in the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, with Dr. Peter Armbruster.

Return to Researchers

Margaret Stanton

PhD Candidate, Georgetown University, USA

I am generally interested in the complex cognition, behavior, and society exhibited by large-brained animals such as dolphins and primates. As a Ph.D. student in Janet Mann's lab I examined the social development and social experience of dolphin calves and their mothers using social network analysis.

I received B.S. degrees in Biology and Psychology from the University of Maryland in 2004. Prior to beginning my Ph.D. work, I was a research assistant in the New York Aquarium's Behavioral and Cognitive Research Laboratory and also interned for a field study of bottlenose dolphins in the Lower Florida Keys.

Return to Researchers

Ewa Krzyszczyk

Senior Researcher, Georgetown University

I am primarily interested in the ontogeny of behavior and society exhibited by highly cognitive animals such as primates and cetaceans. As a Ph.D. student in Janet Mann's lab, I will be exploring the development of behavior and social relationships at different life stages of bottlenose dolphins. In addition, I hope to develop a new blow sampling technique to assess our population's reproductive status indicated by hormone levels.

I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology/Marine Zoology from the University of Wales, Bangor. I completed an honour's thesis on the "Physical and biological impacts of oil pollution on coral" with Dr. Nia Whiteley. From there I went to work at the Zoology department in Warsaw, Poland, where I worked on various projects and taught English. It was not until I volunteered for Operation Wallacea on the project Reef Check and Marine Mammals that I began working in cetacean research with Sarah Curan. I went on to complete a master's degree in Marine Mammal Science at the University of Wales, Bangor in 2004, with my thesis entitled "Breaching of humpback whales whilst on migration on the east coast of Australia". I have conducted fieldwork on several different projects, including the Stradbroke Island Humpback Whale Project, Byron Bay Humpback Whale Project and last but not least, the Shark Bay Bottlenose Dolphin Project. I was a volunteer in Shark Bay for Richard Connor in 2005, and started working in January 2006 as a research associate/database manager for the Dolphins of Monkey Mia Research Foundation.

Return to Researchers