Biologists at Cascadia Research






John Calambokidis is a Research Biologist and one of the founders of Cascadia Research, a non-profit research organization formed in 1979 based in Olympia, Washington. He periodically (1991-2012) serves as an Adjunct    Faculty at the Evergreen State College teaching a course on marine mammals. His primary interests are the biology of marine mammals and the impacts of humans. As a Senior Research Biologist at Cascadia Research he has  served as Project Director of over 100 projects. He has authored two books on marine mammals ( the award-winning Guide to Marine Mammals of Greater Puget Sound from Island Publishers, with R. Osborne and E.M. Dorsey  and Blue Whales from Voyageur Press, with G.H. Steiger) as well as more than 150 publications in scientific journals and technical reports. He has conducted studies on a variety of marine mammals in the North Pacific from Central  America  to Alaska. He has directed long-term research on the status, movements, and underwater behavior of blue, humpback, and gray whales. His work has been covered on shows by Discovery Channel and others and has been  featured in National Geographic TV specials and a magazine article in 2009. John can be reached at Current CV available here.





Gretchen Steiger has been a Research Biologist at Cascadia Research since 1983. She has conducted research on a number of species in many regions from the Arctic to Central America. She currently works primarily as a writer  and editor of scientific research proposals, reports and manuscripts. Recent projects include tracking reproductive rates of humpback whales using long-term photo-identification data and examining movements and population    structure of humpback and blue whales in the North Pacific. She has co-authored results of her work in scientific articles and wrote the book Blue Whales (Voyageur Press, with J. Calambokidis). She is president of the Board  of Directors of Cascadia Research and is a charter member of the Society for Marine Mammalogy. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Gretchen can be reached at





Annie Douglas has worked with Cascadia Research since 1997. She has helped in the ongoing collection of blue, humpback and gray whale photo-identification from the Eastern Tropical Pacific to Kodiak, AK. She is also part of the stranding response team in Washington State, has worked on a number of USGS marine mammal mitigation projects, CalCOFI surveys, and some of  the Hawai‘i odontocete research projects. Annie can be reached at




Robin Baird is a Research Biologist with Cascadia Research, joining in 2003. He first began working with whales and dolphins in 1985, and for many years his research focused on marine mammals in British Columbia.  His current research focuses on Hawaiian odontocete population structure, abundance, ecology and anthropogenic impacts, including studies of false killer whales, pantropical spotted dolphins, dwarf sperm whales, and others. He is also involved in a study of odontocetes off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, serves as a member of the Committee of Scientific Advisors on Marine Mammals of the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission, and is an Affiliate Faculty at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology. He has  authored or co-authored more than 100 peer-reviewed publications and two books - Killer Whales of the World (Voyageur Press) and The Lives of Hawai‘i’s Dolphins and Whales (University of Hawaii Press). He obtained his Ph.D. in Biology  from Simon Fraser University in 1994, and was a Post-doctoral Fellow at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. For more information on his research see his web page. Robin can be reached at

Greg Falxa has been working off and on with Cascadia Research since its inception. He is a master electronics and radio technician and assisted with technical aspects of many Cascadia projects. His current research is focused on bat population surveys and studies of bat colonies in the Pacific Northwest using radio tracking, ultrasonic call analysis, and RADAR technologies. Currently, finding methods to better determine the presence or absence of Townsend's Big-eared and Keen's myotis bats are occupying his attention. Some of the results of his bat work can be found at Cascadia's bat page or email him at
Jessie Huggins is our stranding coordinator and has been with Cascadia since 2004. She takes the lead on coordinating and conducting Cascadia's responses to stranded marine mammals throughout Washington State and has been involved with field work and other various components of our long-term photo-ID projects. Jessie can be reached at
Sabre Mahaffy began working with Cascadia Research in 2005. She currently manages several long-term photo-identification catalogs for Hawaiian odontocetes and has participated in field projects in Washington State and the Hawaiian Islands. Sabre received her Master's degree in biology from Portland State University in 2012 with her thesis focusing on the social organization and association patterns of short-finned pilot whales in Hawai‘i. Sabre can be reached at




Kiirsten Flynn has stayed connected with Cascadia since her internship in 1991 and a brief stint in 1992 as a research assistant. Kiirsten’s interests have always been the marine environment and education. She worked professionally in the boat based education field for 10 years as an educator, deck officer and as a US Coast Guard certified Captain on large traditionally rigged sailing vessels. In 2004 she received her Masters in Environmental Management with a focus on aquatic invasive species vector management. She came back to Cascadia from 2006-2008 assisting with the SPLASH project, out in the field and as an educator. She and John Calambokidis partnered as adjunct faculty with The Evergreen State College teaching a course on marine mammals in 2008 and 2010. Kiirsten returned to Cascadia in 2012 full-time after teaching environmental science at the middle school level and is currently helping with data management, is the intern coordinator, assists with presentations for schools and the public and helps out in the field. Kiirsten can be reached at




Alie Perez has been working with Cascadia Research since 2009 where she started as an intern while an undergraduate student. She received her BSc from the Evergreen State College in 2010. She primarily works on photographic  identification of blue, humpback, and gray whales. However, her emphasis has been helping to manage Cascadia’s gray whale collections and contributions, including data and photo processing as well as catalog comparisons. She  is interested in researching the population dynamics and movements of gray whales. Alie can be reached at




Alex Zerbini started working as a Research Biologist with Cascadia Research in 2009. Alex has studied marine mammals since 1992. He studied taxonomy of southern minke whale species while a masters student in his home  country of Brazil. He moved to the US in 1999 to pursue a Ph.D. at the University of Washington in 1999 and graduated in 2006. His research has focused on population abundance and assessment of killer, fin and humpback whales  in the North Pacific and of humpback whales the west South Atlantic Ocean and, more recently, in satellite telemetry of large whales. Alex has been a member of the scientific committee of the International Whaling Commission  since 2000 and has chaired two of the IWC's subcommittees. He is also a member of the IUCN Cetacean Specialist Group. Alex has authored or co-authored more than 40 peer-reviewed articles and a number of other non-peer  reviewed reports. Alex can be reached at





​Elana Dobson has been with Cascadia since 2011 when she started as an intern. She primarily works on blue and humpback whale photo-identification. Her current project involves a regional comparison of two separate humpback  catalogs. She received her BSc from Evergreen State College in 2010 with an emphasis in marine biology. During her time at Evergreen, she participated in a research project looking at the maximum force exerted by the chelipeds of  northern kelp crabs (Pugettia producta) in comparison to that of red rock crabs (Cancer productus). Elana has a penchant for sarcasm and dinosaurs. Elana can be reached at





Alexandra Vanderzee has been with Cascadia Research since 2011 where she started as an intern after graduating from Regent University in 2010 with a BS in Psychology. She primarily works on photographic identification of Risso’s  dolphins, pilot whales, rough-toothed dolphins, and humpback whales. She also assists in the field for several of Cascadia’s projects, including SOCAL BRS and Shipstrike surveys. Her emphasis has been using the data collected from  SOCAL BRS to document Risso’s dolphin shifts in the Southern California Bight using photo-ID. Alex can be reached at





David Anderson has been with Cascadia Research since 2011, starting out as an intern while working on his Master of Environmental Studies degree at Evergreen. After his internship, he continued working with cascadia on his thesis project, Harbor porpoise return to the South Puget Sound: using bioacoustic methods to monitor a recovering population. Most of his work involves analysis of satellite tag data for the Hawaii and Atlantic odontocete projects. He also assists with field work for the SOCAL Tagless BRS, and conducts regular marine mammal surveys in the South Puget Sound. Dave can be reached at





Elise (Elle) Walters started working at Cascadia in 2016 after graduating from the University of Redlands with a B.S. in Biology. She primarily assists with photo identification of the Hawai’i odontocete species and is currently analyzing short-finned pilot whale movements and habitat using data from satellite tags. She has assisted with Cascadia’s field project on Lana’i, and her research interests include satellite telemetry, habitat use, anthropogenic impacts and acoustics. Elle can be reached at




Kimberly A. Wood began working with Cascadia as a volunteer Hawai’i based field research photographer in 2013 and has been working as part of the Hawaii field research team since 2015. She has traveled extensively, including places like Sri Lanka, Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa, focusing most of her international work on wildlife conservation photojournalism. Her research interests include interspecies interactions and sustainable tourism. Kimberly can be contacted at




Nathan Harrison has been with Cascadia since 2014 where he began as an intern while completing his BS with a focus in biology from the Evergreen State college. Nathan has worked with the biologging tags with the West Coast projects and assists with data processing for Hawaiian and Atlantic odontocete tag data. Nathan is also working on a project investigating gray whale (Escrichtius robustus) feeding in the North Puget Sound from freely available satellite imagery. Nathan can be reached at




Angela Szesciorka is research biologist at Cascadia Research. She received her M.Sc. in marine science from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. Her thesis examined fine-scale spatio-temporal humpback whale dive behavior and  habitat use as well as behavioral response to ships in and around the major shipping lanes off San Francisco. She is currently working on tag development, modeling blue whale movement in southern California, and assessing the  effects of ships and ship noise on balenopterid whales. Her research interests include marine mammal dive behavior, movement ecology, acoustics, and anthropogenic impacts. Angie can be reached a  at 



Kristin Rasmussen is a Research Associate with Cascadia Research, and has worked with Cascadia since 1994. Her research has focused on humpback whales, with an emphasis on their wintering distribution along Central Americawhere she has studied this species since 1996. She initiated a research effort on use of Central America as a wintering area for Southern Hemisphere humpback whales. She was Chief Scientist on a cruise in winter 1999 through Central American waters for humpback and blue whales. She has served as a marine mammal observer for SWFSC. She received her Masters of Science degree at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in 2006, with her thesis focusing on humpback whales off the Pacific coast of Central America. Kristin can be reached at




Daniel Webster is a Research Associate with Cascadia Research. Daniel has been involved in Hawaiian odontocete research since 2000 and has worked with Cascadia Research since 2003. As well as involvement in suction-cup  tagging, photo-identification and biopsy efforts Daniel has been involved in examining movements of Hawaiian odontocetes using satellite tags, as well as similar efforts in California, and participating in studies of killer whales in the  San Juan Islands and southeast Alaska. Daniel can be reached at

Frank Garita Alpízar is a Research Associate with Cascadia Research. Frank has been involved in research on the migration of humpback whales and the study of other marine mammal species along Central America with Cascadia Research and VIDA since 1996. As president of the Costa Rican environmental association VIDA he dedicates much of his time to environmental education programs in schools along the Pacific coast of Central America. Frank is an active member of the Latin American Society of Specialists in Aquatic Mammals (SOLEMAC) and focuses on conservation and management of marine mammals. Frank can be reached at
Amy Van Cise is a Research Associate with Cascadia Research and a Ph.D. student at at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Her dissertation is focused on the evolutionary ecology of short-finned pilot whales in the Pacific Ocean, with an emphasis on relatedness among social groups in the Hawaiian Islands. For this work she is using a combination of acoustic and genetic techniques to examine population structure within the Hawaiian Islands and throughout the Pacific Ocean. Amy can be reached at
Renee Albertson is a Research Associate with Cascadia Research and a Ph.D. student at Oregon State University. Her dissertation is focused on the worldwide phylogeography and fine scale population structure of rough-toothed dolphins. As part of this research she is using molecular markers to evaluate gene flow among the Hawaiian Islands with an emphasis on kinship and social structure of dolphin groups.
Annie Gorgone is a Research Associate with Cascadia Research. Annie has been involved in Hawaiian odontocete research since 2000, curates the Hawai‘i bottlenose dolphin catalog and co-curates the false killer whale photo-identification catalog.

See Current Cascadia Interns