Brenda Jensen, Ph.D.Associate Professor of Biology
Associate Dean, College of Natural and Computational Sciences
Website: Jensen Lab Group (Work in progress)
Education: B.S., Marine Science, Eckerd College; Ph.D., Biological Oceanography, Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Post-doctoral Fellowship, Boston University
Interests: Marine mammal biology, toxicology, biomarkers for stress responses, marine mammal diseases
Courses Taught: BIOL 4030-1 Cell and Molecular biology lecture and lab; MARS 6010 Toxicology and Stress Responses in Marine Communities.
Principal Research Interests
My primary research interest is to investigate how anthropogenic (human caused) stressors impact Hawaii’s marine organisms, particularly in sentinel species such as whales and dolphins. There is a widespread misconception that Hawaii is so geographically remote that issues like marine pollution should not have a large impact on cetaceans in this area. Unfortunately, global distribution of chemicals resistant to environmental degradation means that no marine environment is “pristine”.
A key project that drives much of our research is the HPU Marine Mammal Stranding Program. In close collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), we respond to dead stranded cetaceans in the Hawaiian Islands (and beyond) in order to better understand why these animals stranded, and to learn about the biology of Hawaiian cetaceans in general. Another important collaborator is the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). NIST has partnered with us to measure contaminants and their effects in several marine species, including marine mammals, sea turtles and sea birds.
Because anthropogenic stressors can negatively impact the immune response, we also have several projects focusing on disease screening and characterization. For example, we have recently identified the first case of morbillivirus, a disease that has caused several major outbreaks over the last 3 decades, in two of our stranded whales, and further characterization is ongoing.