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October 15, 2001

UCSC researcher named Hispanic Scientist of the Year

By Tim Stephens

The Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Tampa, Florida, has honored Alejandro Acevedo-Gutiérrez, a research associate at UCSC and the California Academy of Sciences, as the National Hispanic Scientist of the Year. A marine biologist, Acevedo-Gutiérrez studies the ecology and behavior of dolphins and whales.
Alejandro Acevedo-Gutiérrez has been studying the feeding behavior of blue whales and fin whales in Monterey Bay.

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.

"It is an honor to receive this award," Acevedo-Gutiérrez said. "It acknowledges the efforts scientists make to share their work with kids and the general public, hopefully providing inspiration to future researchers."

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 UCSC.

"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 Autónoma 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.

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