The Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Tampa, Florida, has honored Alejandro Acevedo-Gutiérrez, a research associate at the California Academy of Sciences and the University of California, Santa Cruz, as the National Hispanic Scientist of the Year. A marine biologist, Acevedo-Gutiérrez studies the ecology and behavior of dolphins and whales.
The National Hispanic Scientist of the Year award recognizes outstanding Hispanic scientists who promote a greater public understanding of science and motivate Hispanic youths' interest in science. This is the first year MOSI has given the award, which will be presented to Acevedo-Gutiérrez in a ceremony on October 20.
Acevedo-Gutiérrez has been studying the feeding behavior of blue whales and fin whales in Monterey Bay, first as a postdoctoral researcher and now as a research associate with Donald Croll, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UC Santa Cruz.
"He had studied dolphin behavior and brought a behavioral perspective to the research we were doing on whales," Croll said.
Acevedo-Gutiérrez's connection with UCSC actually began much earlier, in the mid-1980s, when he worked as a field assistant in the Gulf of California with Bernie Tershy, then a UCSC undergraduate studying fin whales for his senior thesis and now a research biologist in Croll's group.
Born and raised in Mexico City, Acevedo-Gutiérrez earned his Licenciatura en Biología (the equivalent of a B.S. in biology) from the Universidad Autó-noma de Baja California Sur, and his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University. For his doctoral thesis, he studied the feeding behavior of dolphins and their interactions with sharks off the Isla de Cocos, Costa Rica. His work with dolphins was featured in the IMAX film "Dolphins."
At the California Academy of Sciences, Acevedo-Gutiérrez is a senior aquatic educator in the Department of Education and a research associate in the Department of Ornithology and Mammalogy. He is currently developing science education programs to teach marine biology to young students by involving them in actual research and to the general public by presenting the most recent advances in the field.