Laela Sayigh

Associate Professor of Animal Behavior
Laela Sayigh
Contact Laela

Mail Code CS
Laela Sayigh
Adele Simmons Hall 202

On sabbatical spring 2024.

Laela Sayigh received her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and her Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (MIT/WHOI) Joint Program.

Her research focuses on the social behavior and communication of cetaceans (whales and dolphins). Her current projects focus on a wide range of species, including blue whales, fin whales, pilot whales, and bottlenose dolphins, and are both applied (e.g., looking at effects of anthropogenic noise on communication) and basic (e.g., looking at call structure and function). Given the challenges of studying species that spend most of their lives underwater, she is involved in research that utilizes new technologies, such as non-invasive tags, to study cetacean communication systems.

Recent and Upcoming Courses

  • This course will explore a selection of the main theoretical ideas and methods of the scientific study of animal behavior. We will explore functional and evolutionary bases of animal behavior, including altruism, social behavior, reproductive behavior, mating systems, parental care, the influence of neural systems on behavior, and animal cognition. We will also focus in detail on animal senses, which we will learn about through reading the new book "An Immense World". Students will also put into practice some of the ways that scientists observe, record and measure behavior in the natural world, through hands on work at the Hampshire farm. Keywords:animal behavior,animal senses,Hampshire farm

  • An iconic large whale species, the North Atlantic Right Whale, is rapidly approaching extinction, driven largely by climate change as animals are forced to move farther and wider in search of food. In this process, almost all get entangled in ropes, often resulting in slow and agonizing deaths. As a society, we must make immediate choices and decisions about how important it is to us to preserve and protect these majestic animals. Students will work together to devise strategies to raise awareness about right whales with the general public, which in turn should raise pressure to come up with solutions. Students will be evaluated based on their research, teamwork, and creativity in coming up with viable solutions to this biodiversity and animal welfare crisis.Keywaords:animal behavior,animal senses,Hampshire farm

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