Dr. Brendan Kelly

Brendan P. Kelly

Director of Conservation Research and Chief Scientist

As the Aquarium's chief scientist, Dr. Brendan Kelly oversees all of the Aquarium's research including studies in marine conservation, animal husbandry and veterinarian medicine. Before joining the Aquarium in the spring of 2014, Brendan served as the assistant director for polar science in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, where he advised on Arctic, Antarctic, ocean, climate, environmental and energy policy issues.


"Securing the anchor one evening, I tried to figure out the source of a wave approaching my boat. A salmon, perhaps? Then the wave circled the boat, and just below the surface I could see a harbor porpoise eyeing me, trying to figure me out. A bird, perhaps?"

In his role at the White House, he directed the activities of the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee, served on the task force that developed the National Strategy for the Arctic Region, and co-led an interagency effort to develop ecosystem-based management in the Arctic.

Previously, Brendan served as deputy director of Arctic sciences at the National Science Foundation, and for 35 years conducted research in Alaska, where he studied the ecology and behavior of ice-associated marine mammals.

Brendan's distinguished research career began in the kelp beds of Monterey Bay. Later, at the University of Alaska, he was a professor of marine biology, dean of arts and sciences and vice provost for research. He has participated in and led collaborative research in the North Pacific Ocean, Arctic Ocean, Sea of Okhotsk, Baltic Sea and Antarctica. He has served on numerous national and international science panels and as a science adviser to indigenous organizations in Alaska. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz; a Master of Science degree in biology from the University of Alaska Fairbanks; and a Ph.D. in biology from Purdue University.