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Acoustic Award Another Accolade for Dr. Ana Širović    

February 23, 2021


TAMUG Department of Marine Biology Associate Professor Dr. Ana Širović had been awarded the 2021 Medwin Prize in Acoustical Oceanography from the Acoustical Society of America for her work in marine bioacoustics.

By Andréa Bolt, Communications Specialist, Division of Marketing & Communications

Texas A&M University at Galveston Department of Marine Biology Associate Professor Dr. Ana Širović is a sound scientist in every way.

She studies marine bioacoustics, the sounds of the ocean, specifically those emitted by the planet’s largest animals, whales. Her resulting research and body of work has been deemed so sound, without reproach and impressive as to award her the 2021 Medwin Prize in Acoustical Oceanography from the Acoustical Society of America.

According to the society’s award release, Širović has made fundamental contributions to help further the knowledge base and understanding of the acoustics of marine organisms. 

Dr. Širović captured a fin whale breaching the water during an expedition.
Dr. Širović captured a fin whale surfacing during an expedition.

Using various underwater recording devices in combination with novel research methodologies and techniques, Širović has made a whale of an impact on how the scientific community and world at large understand underwater noise, whale calls and related behaviors.

Texas A&M-Galveston Executive Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer, Regents Professor and Associate Provost for Texas A&M University Dr. Patrick Louchouarn says Širović is a game changer in every aspect.

“Not only for her discipline, but for education at large and our campus. Dr. Širović is a rising star (one of the top three scientists in the world) in a field that is transitioning from the characterization of the behavior of charismatic large animals, to a science that illustrates ecosystem structure and the impact of anthropogenic influence on the entire oceanic soundscape.”

Širović accepts these accolades with grace and humility.

This recognition honoring her accumulated body of work only makes her more energized to keep moving forward.
“This acknowledgment, that what I have been doing so far is good work feels nice. To be recognized like this, in the earlier stages of one’s career, it’s reinforcement I’m on the right path,” Širović said.

This award touches on two sides of bioacoustics study. Širović has done fairly broad work in terms of understanding animals using acoustics, but also insofar as ocean noise and long-term noise trends overall.

She explains this can cover vessel traffic, seismic booms related to oil and gas drilling and exploration, construction, and more. The ocean is a very noisy place, exponentially more so when humans are involved.

Currently, Širović is starting work her recently-awarded grant from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management focusing on understanding the impact of seismic studies on fish in the Gulf of Mexico.

In addition, she has a few academic papers in the works. These are focused on the calling behaviors of blue and fin whales especially as it relates to our ability to use acoustics to estimate density and determine population size of said species.

Another Texas A&M-Galveston administrator and expert researcher with experience studying the gulf is Senior Associate President for Research and Graduate Studies and Department of Marine Biology Regents Professor Dr. Antonietta Quigg, who says Širović’s work serves as a model for others.

“Since arriving in the marine biology department in 2018, Dr. Širović has hit the ground running, assembling a great team, and continuing her efforts in the field of acoustics. She is an excellent role model, inspiring new generations of students in not only marine biology, but also engineering, computational data analysis and so much more,” Quigg stated.

Apart from awards and research, Širović is also making academic curriculum strides on campus. Already teaching one marine biology undergraduate and one graduate course, Širović was just given the green light to add a marine bioacoustics course to the roster, so she’ll be teaching her own research and methodologies to students in the new graduate program.

Prior to Texas A&M-Galveston, Širović served as research oceanographer at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego from 2011 to 2018, and as an assistant professor at Alaska Pacific University from 2008 to 2010.

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Media contact:
Andréa Bolt
Communications Specialist
a_bolt@tamug.edu



Texas A&M University at Galveston is an ocean-oriented branch campus of Texas A&M University which educates nearly 2,300 undergraduate and graduate students in a unique blend of marine and maritime programs, including majors in science, business, engineering, liberal arts, and transportation. It is driving the development of the blue economy in the Gulf Coast Region and is a critical contributor to Texas A&M’s sea-grant portion of Texas A&M’s rare land-, sea-, space-grant mission with nearly $10 million in research expenditures.
 
Texas A&M-Galveston is also home to the Texas A&M Maritime Academy, one of seven in the U.S. and the only academy integrated into a Tier 1 academic institution, which trains over 400 cadets annually for maritime service and employment around the world. Texas A&M-Galveston is ideally located in Galveston, Texas on the Gulf Coast where is it surrounded by the industry, environment and programs essential to fulfilling its special-purpose mission. Aggies are known for their deep commitment to the success of each other and their strong desire to serve.

If you are interested in supporting this endeavor or research, please contact the Texas A&M University at Galveston Office of Development by email at GiveToSeaAggies@txamfoundation.com or by calling (409) 740-4481.