Yaiyr Feb 2016Yaiyr Astudillo-Scalia

Environmental Life Sciences Ph.D. Program
School of Life Sciences
Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ 85287-4601 USA
Office LSA 209




I study the impacts that anthropogenic activities have on cetacean populations and the implications on ecosystem wellbeing, with a strong focus on conservation. I am also interested in pursuing field research that helps fill in the many gaps in knowledge that result from the challenging logistics involved in the study of cetaceans. My projects involve a study of humpback whale hormones and their relationship to reproductive behavior, a spatial-temporal distribution of bottlenose dolphins in the Gulf of California, Mexico, and its relationship to anthropogenic activities during the past ~30 years, and a study about the different anthropogenic causes of cetacean mortality worldwide. During my spare time I also enjoy combining my musical and scientific knowledge to study cetacean vocalizations.

Marine mammals represent a unique link between land and sea because of our shared anatomy, long life-spans, and susceptibility to disease-causing agents found in water and seafood, and therefore serve as sentinel species for ecosystem and human health. As part of my work, I aspire to contribute to bridge the gap between science and policy in an effort to increase public awareness and conservation of these important marine creatures.


I grew up in a coastal town in Venezuela where I witnessed first-hand the importance of ocean preservation. As in any coastal community, and especially in a developing country, ocean health directly impacts people’s livelihood, health, and enjoyment. In my quest to become a marine ecologist, I obtained a B.S. Degree in Biology with a Music Minor from Northeastern Illinois University (Chicago, IL) while I also volunteered for ten years at the John G. Shedd Aquarium’s Marine Mammals and Education Departments. My undergraduate research consisted of using molecular techniques (microsatellites) in the identification of hybridizing and invasive cattail plant species in the Midwest. I later pursued post-bacc research at the University of Chicago where I conducted a study on ammonium oxidation and nitrification rates in marine systems around the world, as part of a bigger effort to better understand animal contribution to the nitrogen cycle.

Curriculum vitae


Arizona State University

General Biology II (BIO 182)