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, as well as a member of the Committee of Scientific Advisors on Marine Mammals of the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission. For many years his research focused on marine mammals in British Columbia. His current research focuses on population assessment, behavior and ecology of Hawaiian odontocetes but he is also continuing his research on biology and behavior of killer whales. Current projects include studies of diving behavior, movement patterns and food habits of killer whales in Washington state, and beaked whales, false killer whales and several other species of odontocetes in Hawai‘i. He has authored or co-authored more than 80 peer-reviewed publications, as well as a number of non-peer reviewed publications and reports, including the book Killer Whales of the World (Voyageur 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



Erin Falcone has been with Cascadia since 2003. She began studying humpback whales in the Revillagigedo Archipelago, Mexico in 1995 while attending Humbolt State University in Arcata, CA. Erin managers sighting and photo-ID data collections for several projects at Cascadia, including the SPLASH North Pacific humpback whale study and the SOCAL Behavioral Response Study. She also conducts small boat surveys for a variety of projects, and co-manages Marine Mammal Studies at the Southern California Offshore Range with Greg Schorr, with related studies photo-ID and telemetry of Cuvier’s beaked whales and fin whales. Erin 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


Greg Schorr has been working with Cascadia Research since 2004, involved in projects with killer whales in Washington state, blue, fin and humpback whales along the outer coasts of California, Oregon and Washington, and beaked whales and other species in Hawai‘i. Since 2006 Greg has been working to improve satellite tag design and deployment systems, and has been examining movements and spatial use of a number of species of toothed and baleen whales along the west coast and in Hawaii using satellite tags. Greg can be reached 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 joined back as a Research Biologist with Cascadia from 2006-2008 assisting with the SPLASH project matching numerous humpback whales as well as serving as an educator for Cascadia and out in the field. She also served with John Calambokidis as adjunct faculty with The Evergreen State College teaching a course on marine mammals. 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

Ann Allen is a post doctoral investigator at Cascadia Research. She has 10 years of experience in marine mammal research. In 2013, she received her Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program. Her primary thesis work used data from satellite tagged humpback whales to investigate the cues they use to navigate during their annual migrations. She is currently working on the Southern California Behavioral Response Study, an interdisciplinary collaboration that uses digital acoustic recording tags (Dtags) and other methods to assess, and minimize, the effects of Navy Sonar exercises on marine mammals. Her primary research goals focus on using animal mounted tags to study the movements and behavior of marine mammals. Ann 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 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 America where 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.

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