Science

OSU Researcher Wins MacArthur Grant For Listening To Sea Animals

OPB | Sept. 27, 2010 2:48 p.m. | Updated: July 17, 2012 1:07 a.m. | Portland, OR

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The MacArthur Foundation has tapped a Corvallis marine biologist for its prestigious fellowship.

Oregon State University’s Kelly Benoit-Bird says the way she found out she’d been chosen for a so-called Genius grant was pretty dramatic.

Kelly Benoit-Bird: “It starts with a very cloak and dagger phone call, first thing in the morning at home. They said, ‘Are you alone and are you sitting down?’ “

Benoit-Bird uses underwater recording techniques to find out how sea animals interact. She’s interested in how animals behave when the distribution of their food sources are changing.

She says she believes the Foundation chose her for both her subject matter and her research techniques — those involve listening with ground-breaking acoustic tools.

As a MacArthur Fellow, she’ll receive $500,000 to forward her research any way she likes.

Oregon State University President Ed Ray called Benoit-Bird a very approachable, down-to-earth person, in addition to being an excellent scientist.

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