Office: Hawaii Loa Campus, AC 206B
Phone: (808) 236-3533

Brenda Jensen, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Biology

Associate Dean, College of Natural and Computational Sciences


  • Post-doctoral Fellowship, Boston University
  • Ph.D., Biological Oceanography, Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • B.S., Marine Science, Eckerd College

Courses Taught:

  • BIOL 3170 Cell and Molecular Biology
  • BIOL 3171 Cell and Molecular Biology Lab
  • MARS 2100 Marine Resource Management: Social, Ecological, and Cultural Dimensions
  • MARS 4100 Marine Resource Management: Culture & Sustainability
  • MARS 6010 Toxicology and Stress Responses in Marine Communities
  • MARS 6910 Current Topics in Marine Science
  • NSCI 6900 Master's Research
  • NSCI 7000 Master's Thesis

Professional Interests: 

Marine mammal biology, toxicology, biomarkers for stress responses, marine mammal diseases

Personal Interests/Biography:

Teaching Interests/Research:

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.