Our Research Team

Greg Kaufman

Chief Scientist and Founder of Pacific Whale Foundation

Greg Kaufman

Greg Kaufman is the founder and Executive Director of Pacific Whale Foundation and author of numerous books, scientific and popular publications on cetaceans. A pioneer in non-invasive humpback whale research off Maui in the mid-1970s, Greg founded Pacific Whale Foundation in 1980, and committed his new organization to educating the public, from a scientific perspective, about whales and their ocean habitat. Greg oversees the longest running humpback whale research programme off Australia (started in 1984) and Ecuador.

Greg is a world leader in addressing whale protection issues, and has pioneered responsible whale- and dolphin-watching programmes throughout the Pacific. He is widely acknowledged as an innovator and leader in marine ecotourism. Greg is an Invited Participant to the International Whaling Commission’s Scientific Committee and is a contributor to the subcommittees on Whale-watching, Southern Hemisphere Whales and Bycatch, serves on the Hawaiian Island Humpback National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Committee, is a contributing member to the Southern Oceans Research Partnership, recently co-led the United Nations Environmental Programme's Regional Workshop on Marine Mammal Watching in the Wider Caribbean Region, and was the US delegate in a recent international workshop (held in Patagonia) to Develop a Five Year Global Plan for Whale-watching.

Cristina Paola Castro A.

Research Director, Ecuador Research Program

Cristina Paola Castro A.

Cristina received her B.A. degree in Biology and Chemistry in the Central University of Ecuador in 1996, and received her Ph.D. in Biology from the Central University of Ecuador in 2001. Her research interests are in management and conservation of marine mammals in Ecuador.

Since 1997 her studies have focused on the breeding grounds of humpback whales in the Machalilla National Park, Ecuador. Cristina has also directed programs of marine mammal environmental education programs, written books on environmental education for indigenous children living in the Ecuadorian jungle and coast.

Stephanie Stack

Senior Research Biologist

Stephanie Currie

Stephanie came to Pacific Whale Foundation in 2013 as a marine mammal biologist. She also serves on NOAA’s Hawaiian Monk Seal and Large Whale Entanglement Response teams. Her research has focused on marine mammal behavior and ecology with a focus on under-studied species. As an international researcher, she has worked with harp and harbor seals in eastern Canada, Antillean manatee and bottlenose dolphins in Belize, and developing communities and marine conservation in South Africa.

As Pacific Whale Foundation’s senior marine mammal biologist, Stephanie ensures our research evolves to answer the most biologically relevant questions for the study species. Her research focuses on North and South Pacific population of humpback whales, bottlenose dolphins, Hawaiian 

spinner dolphins, Pantropical spotted dolphins, and false killer whales, studying aspects of population ecology, behavior, patterns of residency, associations between individuals, and animal health. 

Jens Currie

Senior Research Analyst

Jens started working at Pacific Whale Foundation in 2013 as a data analyst. He 

Jens Currie

serves as research chair (alternate) on the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale Marine Sanctuary advisory council and as a first responder on NOAA’s Large Whale Entanglement Response team. His research focuses on investigating potential anthropogenic impacts on cetacean populations. As an analyst, he has a wide and varied background including studying lobster fecundity in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, modelling the impacts of aquaculture pens on the surrounding environment, and evaluating ecosystem goods and services in coastal South Africa.     

As Pacific Whale Foundation’s senior data analyst, Jens is responsible for designing research studies and ensuring information is collected in a standardized manner to allow for rigorous statistical analysis. His research focuses on distance sampling, modelling cetacean population dynamics, and cetacean interactions with marine debris. 

Jessica McCordic

Research Assistant

Jessica McCordic

Jessica joined the Pacific Whale 

Foundation in 2015 as a research assistant after completing her graduate studies on bioacoustics in the North Atlantic right whales. Her research focused on the use of bioacoustics to identify seasonality, age, and identity of North Atlantic right whales. She previously worked with Allied Whale to assist with the North Atlantic Humpback Whale and Finback Whale Catalogs.

As Pacific Whale Foundation’s research assistant, she manages the humpback whale photo-ID catalogs and leads the field work for the land-based study on humpback whale behavior.

Grace Olson

Research Assistant

Grace joined the Pacific Whale Foundation in 2017 as a research assistant after completing her graduate studies on sound patterns of social vocalizations in the Amazon River dolphins in Peru. Her research has focused on odontocete photo-identification, with emphasis on poorly studied species such as the Dusky dolphins in New Zealand, and Amazon River dolphins in Brazil and Peru.

As Pacific Whale Foundation’s research assistant, she manages odontocete photo-ID catalogs and animal adoption program.

Jenny Roberts 

Conservation Assistant

Jenny joined Pacific Whale Foundation as a naturalist in 2016 before taking on the role of conservation assistant in 2017. Her Masters research investigated the spatial and temporal distribution of minke whales and common dolphins in southwest Ireland to promote sustainable ecotourism. She is a certified Marine Mammal Observer and Protected Species Observer for the Gulf of Mexico.

As Pacific Whale Foundation’s conservation assistant, she assists with marine debris outreach and conservation projects.

Elizabeth Speith

Paniaka Wetland Restoration Coordinator

Elizabeth joined Pacific Whale Foundation in 2017 as restoration coordinator for Paniaka wetland. Her previous work has focused on 

developing a better understanding of terrestrial invasive species in

Hawaii and developing an early detection and rapid response program for invasive species. She has worked with the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. National Parks Service, and the University of Hawaii to map, identify, and monitor invasive species. 

As Pacific Whale Foundation’s restoration coordinator, she is working to restore Paniaka wetland in Makena to its native regime. 

David Holmes

Research Volunteer

Dave started as a research volunteer in November 2011 and is primarily involved in quality control of the South Pacific Humpback Whale Catalog. He holds a B.S. from Kansas State University and served in U.S. Army tours in South Korea and Germany. Dave’s many hobbies include hiking, scenic photography, whalewatching, seashell collecting, and reading.

Lorraine Holmes

Research Volunteer

Lorraine is a retired Administrative Assistant and Equine Veterinarian Technician. She started volunteering in the research department in November 2011 and manages our library of references. Lorraine is an avid reader, enjoys various activities with the Kaunoa Senior Center, and volunteers at the Maui Humane Society.

Apply To Intern With Us!

Learn more about how to apply for a Pacific Whale Foundation Research Internship.

 

Research team members