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Michelle Fournet

Ph.D. Student, Graduate Research Assistant
(907) 723-2752


Field studies in acoustic communication of marine mammals, humpback whale non-song vocal behavior, concomitant visual/acoustic data collection, public outreach and engagement.


2006: B.F.A Theatre Arts, Boston University
2014: M.S. Marine Resource Management -- Conservation and Communication, Oregon State University


My research interests are in animal communication, the impact of anthropogenic noise on animal behavior, and the interface between humans and wild marine mammal species, including resource extraction and tourism. I am interested in using acoustics to investigate questions of applied ecological significance, and further to disseminate science to the greater public. My master's research focused on humpback whale social calling behavior in Southeast Alaska, including call classification and investigation of behavioral context.

Former projects include humpback whale photo-identification and citizen-science research development in Juneau Alaska, undergraduate internship development and mentoring from the Five Finger Lighthouse in Frederick Sound, Alaska, coordination and development of a marine mammal observation effort in Oregon's near shore ocean, and the analysis of a year-long acoustic data set from Alaska’s Beaufort Sea which investigated seasonal marine mammal presence including, but not limited to, bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus), and various arctic seals.

My dissertation research -- known colloquially as "The Acoustic Spyglass" -- investigates the impact of vessel noise on humpback whale vocal behavior in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.  This includes quantifying and describing the role of social calling within the humpback whale vocal repertoire, quantifying the contribution of biotic and abiotic noise in the marine soundscape, and assessing shifts in vocal behavior of humpback whales in the presence of vessel noise.  This work builds on the foundational research done in Glacier Bay over the past three decades.


Student member of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), Marine Mammal Society (MMS- Northwest Student Chapter Representative), Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB), and the American Cetacean Society (ACS)

Personal interest

Hiking, snorkeling, my pups (Vista and Luna Tunes), novice ukulele playing, art in many forms, hiking and vegetables


Birmingham, AL & Juneau, AK

Personal Website



Vessel Noise & Humpback Whale Communication