I am thrilled to be here as the new director of Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute. I have been here just a short time, since October 14th, but already two things are crystal clear: the talent here is deep; and the passion is palpable.

I come to MMI from NOAA, where I have been a marine ecologist for the past 30 years, and director of the Marine Mammal and Turtle Research Division in La Jolla, California, for the past 12. Prior to that, I was the chief scientist for NOAA Fisheries’ Eastern Tropical Pacific Dolphin and Ecosystem Assessment Surveys, which have provided the scientific basis for the “Dolphin Safe” label found on tuna cans in supermarkets all over this country. I have published over 100 papers on cetacean and seabird ecology; received research funding from the National Science Foundation, US Navy, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and the World Wildlife Fund; advised doctorate students and taught courses as a professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography; and I am a recipient of the Department of Commerce Bronze and Silver Medals. You can read more about my background in the OSU press release.

My introduction would not be complete without acknowledging Dr. Bruce Mate, who had the vision, talent, and dedication to build MMI from the beginning. His research, and the research conducted by Bruce, Scott, Leigh, Daniel, and many others he has brought into MMI, has had an impressive scientific footprint worldwide and has contributed significantly to our basic understanding of marine mammal biology and to better solutions for management and conservation. It would be difficult to overstate Bruce’s impact on marine mammal science, and I want to formally acknowledge his outstanding career. It is a privilege to join this group and to have Bruce remain with us as an Emeritus Professor for some time to come.

It is an exciting time for MMI! The Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals this past December had a strong and impressive showing from MMI professors and graduate students. (Read more about it in our annual newsletter.) The new Marine Studies Building here at the Hatfield Marine Science Center will soon be complete. It is an impressive feat of engineering and will bring MMI together in one beautiful space from our currently disparate locations. We will add two new professors to MMI over the next two years. And OSU’s Marine Studies Initiative is providing new opportunities to educate students and enhance our research and its impact. The need for research on marine mammals, particularly science-based solutions to management and conservation problems, has never been greater. MMI has always been known for its outstanding science. We are poised to become even stronger. Our future is bright.


Lisa T. Ballance, Ph.D.
Director, Marine Mammal Institute
Endowed Chair for Marine Mammal Research
Professor Department of Fisheries and Wildlife
Oregon State University, Hatfield Marine Science Center