Travis Horton

Professor Travis Horton is a geologist who studies whales. Yes, you read that right: a geologist who studies whales. Travis developed his extraquadrilateral thinking skills during his Stanford years under the supervision of Professor Page Chamberlain, a pioneer in use of geochemical forensics as tracers of animal movements. Since moving to New Zealand in 2007, Travis has collaborated with Nan Hauser, Director of the Centre for Cetacean Research and Conservation, and researchers at N.O.A.A.’s Marine Mammal Laboratory, on projects aimed at answering the question: How do whales navigate? These collaborations have led to unique insights into how individual whales use environmental cues to swim across vast expanses of open-ocean without getting lost. Travis has championed the establishment of a new paradigm for animal navigation: a data based framework that includes both spatial and temporal cues for orientation. This entirely natural system of navigation allows whales (and other animals) to find and follow identical migration routes at distinctly different Julian calendar dates and times during the most awe-inspiring of animal movements. Travis looks forward to applying this mechanistic understanding of animal navigation to the development of predictive models of animal movement for conservation purposes and satellite-free global positioning systems.