THE TEAM

Whale Wise is dedicated to evidence-based marine conservation. We study the impact of human activity on whale and dolphin populations, and engage the public with our work through media and local events.
Protecting whales can never be achieved through solo efforts alone. It requires a team with diverse background and skills, united by a shared passion for marine conservation. Whale Wise consists of a core team of volunteers, visiting students and numerous other contributors – all of these people have made our work possible. Together we have experience in whale research, conservation action, public engagement and media.
We are also fortunate to work with several institutions, who together provide us with the resources and expertise needed to realise our goals. Read about our partners here.

To make each team member’s role clear and transparent, we have adopted the following naming system:

  • Team members who join Whale Wise are assistants for the first year
  • After the first year, or if you lead a project within the first year, you are an associate
  • After the first year, if you lead a project, you are an officer
  • Our activities are coordinated by two directors
Team
Tom Grove (co-founder)
Research Director
Tom
Alyssa Stoller (co-founder)
Engagement & Communications Director
Alyssa
(co-founder)
Amelie Laute
Research Officer
Amelie
Flordespina Dodds
Research & Engagement Officer
Flo
Synnøve Røsand
Research Associate
Synnøve
Rosemary Connelli
Design Associate
Rosemary
Jessica Ward
Research & Engagement Associate
Jessica
Petr Slavík
Research Associate
Petr
Johanna Behrisch
Research Assistant
Johanna
Abigail Robinson
Research & Engagement Associate
Abigail
Josephine Schulze
Research Assistant
Josephine
Ívar Örn Hauksson
Local & Historical Advisor and Contributor
Ívar
Students
Sarah Kane
Master’s
Sarah
Master’s
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Tom Grove (co-founder)
Research Director
Interests: behavioural ecology, human-whale interactions, citizen science, public speaking and events
After graduating with a degree in Natural Science (University of Cambridge, UK), Tom has spent the last three years working for various whale research and conservation groups. As part of this, he interned for the University of Iceland in Húsavík, contributing to photo-ID and behavioural research. During this time, he formed the idea of promoting a more sustainable whale watching industry in Iceland and beyond. This idea has transformed into Whale Wise, with the broader aim of reducing human disturbance to whales. Our behavioural, blow sampling and body condition research will form part of Tom’s PhD with the University of Edinburgh.
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Alyssa Stoller (co-founder)
Engagement & Communications Director
Interests: film and education, citizen science, science-policy integration, whale migratory patterns and habitats
Director of Engagement and Communications for Whale Wise, Alyssa has spent nearly 10 years working in the whale research field. Meeting close friends with similar passions over the years, Alyssa joined forces with other young researchers and co-found Whale Wise in 2018. Obtaining a BS in Marine Environmental Science from Western Washington University and MSc in Marine Systems and Policies from the University of Edinburgh, Alyssa has learned that real change is made through the combination of research, conservation and education. Currently, Alyssa coordinates the citizen science research project, engagement content and volunteers for Whale Wise. If you are interested in contacting and/or working with Whale Wise, feel free to reach out to Alyssa directly using info@whalewise.org
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Amelie Laute
Research Officer
Interests: bioacoustics, impacts of anthropogenic noise, global ocean processes, science communication
Amelie is currently graduating with a BSc. in biology in Germany. Soon she will be studying the master of biological oceanography in Kiel. During three years of travelling before uni she learnt from and contributed to different research groups, following her passion for marine science. Working in whale research along the way she met Tom, Alyssa and Abigail and since then she’s a part of the team in Iceland. Amelie runs our acoustic research, understanding the underwater soundscape of North Iceland. As part of her current undergraduate dissertation, she is studying the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the acoustic habitat of the humpbacks in Skjálfandi Bay.
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Flordespina Dodds
Research & Engagement Officer
Interests: behavioural ecology, human-whale interactions, citizen science, public speaking and events
Flo graduated from McGill University (Montreal, Canada) with a Bachelors in Biology, with a concentration in marine biology. A class on marine mammals in the Bay of Fundy made her the whale enthusiast she is today. She completed her master’s dissertation in 2019 (Marine Systems and Policy, University of Edinburgh), where she assessed the ability of using drones to measure body condition of humpback whales in Iceland with Whale Wise. Flo now runs our diatom and co-runs our scars from above projects, as well as helping with all sorts of Whale Wise research and engagement projects. Her favourite whales are North Atlantic right whales because they are cute, slow and chubby.
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Synnøve Røsand
Research Associate
Interests: ecology, ethology, photography, anything whale-related
After watching a documentary about orcas at the age of six, Synnøve decided she was going to become a biologist. She graduated from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (Ås, Norway) with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, and later with a master’s degree in Ecology. After graduating, she completed the Post Graduate Certificate in Education and went on to teach natural sciences for four years before interning with the University of Iceland in Húsavik. It was here that Synnøve met the Whale Wise team! Synnøve contributes to our fieldwork and photo-identification matches.
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Rosemary Connelli
Design Associate
Interests: visual communication, conservation, film and education
Growing up on an island and practising art, Rosemary decided to combine her two passions into one: using visual communication as a storytelling tool for marine conservation. She graduated from Green Mountain College with a BFA degree concentrating in whale conservation in 2018, and continues to use her degree in designing infographics and educational materials for the awareness of cetacean conservation. She has collaborated with The Nature Conservancy, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, New Bedford Whaling Museum, The Húsavík Whale Museum, and various other environmental-based organizations. She was introduced to the Whale Wise team in summer 2019, where she was interning with the University of Iceland in Húsavík, contributing to photo-identification and behavioural research in humpback whales. She currently works as a reporter and operates her own graphic design business in Block Island.
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Jessica Ward
Research & Engagement Associate
Interests: conservation, public engagement, whale biology
Jess is a recent Zoology graduate from the University of Edinburgh. In her third year, she studied in Santa Barbara and fell in love with living by the ocean and taking marine-focused and conservation classes. She has always felt a calling towards protecting the planet and she strives for a world that allows non-human animals and humans to thrive together. She met the Whale Wise team on a university webinar in her final year and instantly was inspired by their work, passion and connectivity as a team! She created a short video for Whale Wise: a poem narrated by the women in the team exploring the importance of female whales! The summer of 2021 was her first field season – of many! Jess is very passionate about achieving better animal rights globally, and also loves humpbacks, musicals and running!
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Petr Slavík
Research Associate
Interests: ecology, conservation, biological oceanography, film and photography
Despite growing up in the landlocked Czech Republic, Petr developed a passion for ocean science and marine fauna as a kid watching J. Cousteau’s docs and reading books about the marine environment. To carry on with this passion, Petr obtained a BSc in Zoology from the University of Aberdeen and is currently completing MSc in Marine Mammal Science at the University of St Andrews. Petr has participated in internships involving research on, for example, Scottish bottlenose dolphins and pinnipeds, seabirds, as well as cetaceans of the Pacific Northwest. For the past year, Petr has been helping with planning the Arctic Sense expedition, in particular the use of a towed hydrophone array and PAMGuard software for real-time cetacean detection.
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Johanna Behrisch
Research Assistant
Interests: polar marine ecology, human-whale interactions, and climate related processes in the ocean
Johanna started studying her master’s degree in Biological Oceanography at the GEOMAR in Kiel, together with Amelie from the Whale Wise team last year. Before her BSc in biology, she worked for several months in Greenland and on Svalbard. There, she worked on land and on ships, which awakened her passion about polar marine and terrestrial biology, how both influence each other, how strongly humans depend on and interact with the nature in these regions and how global change affects polar ecosystems. So, she made polar biology one of her major subjects in her bachelor studies, by completing a semester abroad at the University Center of Svalbard in 2019. When Johanna heard about Whale Wise for the first time she was very interested in our projects and fascinated about our passion. She offered her help and is now working with the data and the analysis of acoustic recordings from our recent field trips.
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Abigail Robinson
Research & Engagement Associate
Interests: blow sampling, videography, behavioural ecology
Abigail is from New Zealand and has always felt a draw to the ocean. Growing up in a family that spent summers fishing and diving, meant that she encountered cetaceans from a young age, and has always scanned the horizon for them ever since. While studying a BAppSc. in Biodiversity Management (Unitec, Auckland), she spent field seasons in 2014-16 working as a research assistant for Cook Islands Whale Research. This was when she learned to fly a drone, and capture humpbacks from an angle that offers many new research opportunities. Abigail is our drone pilot, taking Whale Wise to the skies to collect blow samples and aerial images. Currently she works as a Biosecurity Officer in New Zealand.
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Josephine Schulze
Research Assistant
Interests: acoustics, behavioural ecology
Josephine grew up landlocked in the middle of Germany, but found her passion for oceans when learning to surf as a teenager during summers spent in France. This passion brought her to Aberdeen, Scotland, to study Environmental Sciences in her undergraduate while living closer to nature. During this degree, she also spent a semester at the University Centre in Svalbard, where she specialised in Arctic Biology and had her first encounters with marine mammals during various kayaking trips. Since then, Josephine has been hooked on cetaceans and worked as a research assistant on beluga whales in Québec as well as a naturalist and guide onboard small cruise ships to the Arctic and Antarctica. Her particular research interests lie in the field of acoustics, and this is what she focussed on for her undergraduate thesis as well as her MSc in Marine Mammal Sciences at the University of St Andrews. Most recently, she has moved to Tromsø in Norway to do an internship at the North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission (NAMMCO) and to enjoy the sea and mountains around. For Whale Wise, Josephine is supporting the acoustic analysis of data from the previous Arctic Sense Expedition.
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Ívar Örn Hauksson
Local & Historical Advisor & Contributor
Interests: citizen science, historical records, fisheries, marine law
Ívar Örn is a local Icelander from Bíldudalur in Iceland and grew up there. Since childhood, Ívar has been interested in whales and marine life and has, among other things, worked at sea in commercial fishing. Unlike other members of Whale Wise, Ívar has a different background and education as a lawyer. However, Ívar has contributed his knowledge to assist the Whale Wise team, especially regarding citizen science, translations and statistics. Ívar is a proud member of the Whale Wise team and will carry on working with and assisting the other members.
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Sarah Kane
Master’s student, University of Edinburgh
Interests: acoustic monitoring, behavioural ecology, conservation, public engagement, citizen science
Sarah graduated with a BSc in Biology from Queen Mary University of London and is currently studying MSc Marine Systems and Policies at the University of Edinburgh. For her master’s dissertation she will be working in partnership with Whale Wise to study the potential of HydroMoths deployed on static fishing gear to monitor cetaceans. Sarah has contributed to marine mammal research in the North Sea and is a volunteer marine mammal medic.
Previous team members
In addition to the current team, we are forever grateful to those who have previously volunteered for Whale Wise.
  • Benjamin Hildebrand (2019-2020): behavioural and acoustic fieldwork, equipment construction
  • Gabriele Negro (2019-2020): filming, outreach events
  • Beverly Tan (2019): behavioural and drone-based fieldwork, data processing
  • Danny Kosiba (2018): behavioural and drone-based fieldwork
  • Katy Maleta (2018): behavioural and drone-based fieldwork
Other contributors
As well as long-term volunteers, people have generously contributed to our work in many other ways. These include short-term volunteers, locals who have guided us towards whale hotspots and friends who have stored our blow samples. We wouldn’t be able to do it without you!
  • Judith Scott: local whale knowledge, storing blow samples, general research advice
  • Christian Schmidt: whale sightings, local knowledge, material translation
  • Eric Dos Santos: local whale knowledge and sightings, storing blow samples
  • Eyjólfur Fannar Scheving Jónsson: local knowledge, citizen science
  • Lucie Weber: drone-based and behavioural fieldwork, summer 2021
  • Leonhard Balz: drone-based and behavioural fieldwork, summer 2021