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Photo of Ronald Schusterman RONALD SCHUSTERMAN

Ron Schusterman is a Research Marine Biologist in the Institute of Marine Sciences, and an Adjunct Professor of Ocean Sciences, at the University of California at Santa Cruz. He directs the Pinniped Research in Cognition and Sensory Systems program, located at Long Marine Laboratory on the northern coast of Monterey Bay. He is also Emeritus Professor of Psychology and Biology at California State University at Hayward, where he taught for 30 years. He is currently affiliated with the Southern Oregon State University, Columbia University, and the New York Aquarium for Wildlife Conservation.

Educated at Brooklyn College and Florida State University, Ron took his first research position at the original Yerkes Laboratory of Primate Biology in Orange Park, Florida, where he investigated the cognitive and social behavior of chimpanzees, gibbons, and monkeys. He then acquired a full-time position doing research in 1963 at Stanford Research Institute where he helped develop the first laboratory in North America primarily devoted to the study of the behavior and physiology of pinnipeds. It was at that time that Ron co-edited the first book on the behavior and physiology of pinnipeds. In 1971, he moved his operation to the Ecological Field Station at California State University at Hayward. Between 1971 and 1977 he took sabbaticals from teaching to do research on the echolocation abilities of dolphins at the Naval Oceans Systems Center at Kailua, Hawaii. This work ultimately led to his co-editing a book on the cognition and behavior of dolphins. In 1985 he made his final move, and brought his research program, along with his seals and sea lions, to Long Marine Laboratory, at the University of California at Santa Cruz. For the past 35 years, his major research interests have been in sensory systems, perception, cognition and communication of marine mammals. Ron's field work has been done on the communicative behavior of California sea lions and harbor seals off the coast of California. In the lab, he has used behavioral techniques to study perception and cognition, and he is currently researching the effects of noise on hearing in pinnipeds.

Over the span of his research and academic career, Ron has published over 90 research articles and a few book reviews. He has been invited to share his research at a variety of scientific meetings, workshops and congresses, including as a plenary speaker at the World Marine Mammal Science Conference in Monaco in 1998. Most recently, he has been invited to be a visiting scholar at the Konrad Lorenz Institute in Altenburg, Austria in the summer of 1999. He is currently a fellow of four scientific societies, including the Animal Behavior Society, the Acoustical Society of America, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and American Psychological Association.

When he is not researching or teaching courses such as animal behavior and evolutionary psychology, Ron likes to swim, dance, listen to jazz, see live theater and concerts, watch sporting events, travel, read Elmore Leonard mysteries, schmoose with his Palo Alto coffee clatch or with his old friends from the Bronx or with fellow animal behaviorists, taste wines, and play with his four grandchildren.


Scientific American Frontiers
Fall 1990 to Spring 2000
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