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Alexis Rudd
Knauss Fellow 2015
PhD Zoology, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Headshot image of Alexis Rudd

2525 Correa Road, HIG 239
Honolulu, HI 96822

Alexis Rudd is spending her Knauss Fellowship year working in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, which deals with proposed legislation related to coastal zone management, marine fisheries, oceans, weather, atmosphere, science, engineering, and technology. In the first few weeks of her fellowship, she has already gotten the opportunity to staff two Senate hearings and is looking forward to learning more about the process of legislation in the coming year.

After doing her undergraduate degree in biology at the University of Puget Sound, Alexis pursued a PhD in the Zoology Department at the UH. Her PhD research uses underwater sound to study the distribution of dolphins and humpback whales in the main Hawaiian Islands. For this research, she partnered with the local Young Brothers Ltd. shipping company, who allowed her to tow an underwater recorder behind their shipping barges for over a year and a half. She adapted this recording system for use on the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s Hikianalia, and it is now being used to record sounds from their worldwide voyage. Alexis also has published research on the underwater sounds of high speed vessels like the Hawai‘i Superferry, on the acoustics of seabirds, and on the associations of seabirds and gray whales. Alexis was active in the Hawai‘i Chapter of the Graduate Women in Science and was awarded the Moir Scholarship for community service. Her thesis advisor, Dr. Whitlow Au, indulged her love of a challenge by asking her to learn computer programming and soldering, and now she is addicted to being outside of her comfort zone.

One of Alexis’ main inspirations to become more involved in science policy came from Dr. Sheila Conant’s discussion of the power of policy to shape conservation in Hawai‘i. In 2013, Alexis was offered the opportunity to become a Frank M. Cushing Science Policy fellow at the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, an organization representing more than 100 of the leading public and private ocean research and education institutions (including the University of Hawai‘i). During this fellowship she learned about the need for greater communication between scientists and policymakers, so now she hopes to use this knowledge during the fellowship to facilitate a greater integration between science and policy. She hopes that the lessons learned during her Knauss Fellowship year will allow her to give back to the state of Hawai‘i.