Dr. Diana Reiss is a marine mammal scientist, a cognitive psychologist, Professor, and Director of the Animal Behavior and Conservation Graduate programs in the Psychology Department at Hunter College, City University of New York (CUNY). She is also a Professor in the Cognitive and Comparative Psychology Doctoral program at the Graduate Center, CUNY.
Dr. Reiss’s research focuses on dolphin communication, cognition, comparative animal cognition, cetacean welfare, and the evolution of intelligence. She has directed dolphin research programs at Marine World Africa USA, Osborn Laboratories of Marine Sciences of the Widlife Conservation Society, and the National Aquarium. She pioneered the use of an interactive underwater keyboard system with dolphins, thus affording them the choice and control to investigate their spontaneous vocal learning abilities. Dr. Reiss and her colleagues have demonstrated that bottlenose dolphins and Asian elephants possess the advanced cognitive ability for mirror self-recognition, previously considered unique to humans and great apes. Her current research focuses on decoding dolphin communication and developing interfaces for facilitating interspecies communication.
As an expert in her field, Dr. Reiss conducts cognitive and field research in Roatan, Belize, and Bimini using a variety of approaches, including unmanned aerial systems, to obtain new perspectives on dolphin communication and behavior. Dr. Reiss is a Co-founder and Chair of the Interspecies Internet, a think tank to accelerate our understanding of interspecies communication.
Applying her research to advocating for global protection for cetaceans, Dr. Reiss has served on the AZA Animal Welfare Committee and was a science advisor for the California Marine Mammal Rescue Center. Her professional efforts have also included the rescue and rehabilitation of stranded marine mammals, including the rescue operation of Humphrey, the Humpback whale that wandered into the Bay area in 1985. Dr. Reiss’s work has been published in numerous international and national journals and was featured in science magazines, television programs, and newspaper articles. In her book, The Dolphin in the Mirror, released in 2011, she shares her personal and professional experiences with what she calls “magnificent minds in the water.”