February 11, 2020

Acoustic award applauds scientist Kelly Benoit-Bird

Kelly Benoit-Bird describes her research using echosounders on remotely operated vehicle Ventana. Image: © 2017 MBARI

The Acoustical Society of America (ASA) has announced MBARI Senior Scientist Kelly Benoit-Bird as the 2020 recipient of the Medwin Prize in Acoustical Oceanography.

The award is named after Dr. Herman “Hank” Medwin, a former Monterey resident who received the highest recognition from the ASA for his leadership and research in ocean acoustics. This annual award is given to a mid-career scientist for their use of sound in the discovery and understanding of complex ocean processes.

The ASA recognized Benoit-Bird “for contributions to understanding marine organism foraging ecology using novel acoustic analysis”. Her career has focused on using active acoustics (sonar) to explore the roles of animal behaviors like schooling and cooperation, and the resulting effect on interactions within a group as well as between predators and prey. At MBARI Benoit-Bird continues to develop new acoustic techniques which can be integrated with underwater imaging, animal tagging, and behavioral modeling approaches to study species ranging from massive humback whales to tiny but crucial krill.

The award was established in the year 2000, making Benoit-Bird the ASA’s 19th honoree. She will travel to Chicago in mid-May for the organization’s spring meeting to deliver an “Acoustical Oceanography Prize Lecture” and to accept a $2,000 stipend along with her award certificate.

Article by Lara Streiff

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