Dr. Brendan P. Kelly is Associate Vice President for Research and Associate Professor of Marine Biology with the University of Alaska. During the International Polar Year, he is serving as Program Director in Arctic Natural Sciences at the National Science Foundation.
Brendan received Biology degrees from the University of California Santa Cruz (B.A.), the University of Alaska Fairbanks (M.S.), and Purdue University (Ph.D.). For past 36 years, he has been studying marine mammals in the Pacific, Atlantic, Southern, and Arctic oceans. His scientific knowledge of whales, porpoises, seals, sea lions, walruses, sea otters, and polar bears is supplemented by many years learning from Eskimo and Indian hunters in Alaska, Russia, and Canada.
The spring months in 25 of the past 27 years have found Brendan and his students camped on the Arctic sea ice with specially trained Labrador retrievers. The dogs locate the breathing holes and birth lairs maintained by ringed seals under the snow. Brendan has combined that canine technology – learned from Eskimo hunters – with modern scientific methods to study the behavior and ecology of ringed seals. He has published scientific and popular articles on ringed seals, walruses, and other marine mammals and is a charter member of the Society for Marine Mammalogy and a Life Member of the Arctic Institute of North America. In addition to many scientific publications, his research has been highlighted in Harper’s Magazine, Science News, and on National Geographic and other television shows. His collaborators include scientists from the United States, Canada, Norway, Finland, Ireland, England, New Zealand, Russia, and Japan.
Gravely concerned by threats to the Arctic ecosystem and the people who depend on it, Brendan has focused increasingly on climate change and its impact on the northern ecosystems. He chaired a scientific panel for the City of Juneau on likely impacts of climate change, and he has described climate change impacts on northern ecosystems in local, state, national, and international forums including meetings of U.S. mayors and in testimony before the U.S. Senate.