Dr. Iain Kerr is the CEO of Ocean Alliance (OA), a New England nonprofit recognized as an international leader in whale research and ocean conservation since its founding in 1971 by renowned scientist Dr. Roger Payne. Under Iain and Roger’s leadership, OA has maintained a reputation for developing innovative benign research tools and techniques that engage scientists, educators and conservationists alike.
Iain’s interdisciplinary skill sets have been critical to the success of OA’s newest program, Drones for Whale Research, which applies drone technology to conduct non-invasive research on marine mammals. As of January 2020, SnotBot, a drone customized to collect exhaled breath condensate, or whale blow, has collected over 500 respiratory samples from six species of whale in six different locations: Southern right whales (Patagonia); gray whales (Mexico); blue whales (Mexico); humpback whales (Gabon, Mexico, Dominican Republic, New England and Alaska); Fin Whales (New England); and orcas (Alaska). His passion for “conservation science” has driven him to run more than 50 expeditions around the globe and to author or co-author more than 80 scientific papers.
An accomplished speaker, Iain’s talent for science communication has been fundamental in ensuring Ocean Alliance discoveries reach the general public in both technical and layman’s form. Some of his more recent audiences include the Marine Mammal Commission, the Singularity Conference in San Francisco and the United Nations—with delegates from over 170 nations in attendance in the Great Hall. Iain has given keynote speeches for FLIR and Intel at CES and has spoken on how drones are democratizing science to audiences of varying scientific and educational backgrounds around the globe.