Brenda Jensen, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biology
Associate Dean, College of Natural and Computational Sciences
Office: Hawaii Loa Campus, AC 206B
Phone: (808) 236-3533
Post-doctoral Fellowship, Boston University
Ph.D., Biological Oceanography, Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
B.S., Marine Science, Eckerd College
|BIOL 3170/1 Cell and Molecular biology lecture and lab
MARS 2100 Marine Resource Management: Social, Ecological, and Cultural Dimensions
MARS 6010 Toxicology and Stress Responses in Marine Communities
Marine mammal biology, toxicology, biomarkers for stress responses, marine mammal diseases
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.