The Team

Founder and Executive Director

Dr. Marino is a neuroscientist and expert in animal behavior and intelligence, formerly on the faculty of Emory University where she was also a faculty member at the Emory Center for Ethics.

She is internationally known for her work on the evolution of the brain and intelligence in dolphins and whales and marine mammal welfare in captivity, as well as cognition in farmed animals through The Someone Project.

In 2001 she co-authored a ground-breaking study with Diana Reiss offering the first conclusive evidence for mirror self-recognition in bottlenose dolphins, after which she decided against further research with animals held captive in zoos and aquariums.

She is also the Founder and President of The Whale Sanctuary Project.

Lori has published over 130 peer-reviewed scientific papers, book chapters, and magazine articles on marine mammal biology and cognition, comparative brain anatomy, self-awareness in nonhuman animals, human-nonhuman animal relationships, and the evolution of intelligence.

Lori has appeared in several films and television programs, including the 2013 documentary Blackfish about killer whale captivity; Unlocking the Cage, the 2016 documentary on the Nonhuman Rights Project; Long Gone Wild, the 2019 documentary; and in the upcoming documentary about Corky, the orca held captive by SeaWorld since 1969.

Dr. Marino’s CV is here.

Board of Directors

Lori Marino, Ph.D., Board Chair

See bio above

Michael Mountain

Michael is the former President and one of the founders of Best Friends Animal Society, the nation’s largest animal sanctuary, which continues to spearhead the no-kill movement to help bring an end to the mass killing of homeless pets in shelters. When he stepped down in 2007, the no-kill movement had reduced the number of animals being killed in shelters in the U.S. from 15 million a year to below 3 million.

After stepping down from Best Friends, he worked with the Nonhuman Rights Project in its early legal efforts to have chimpanzees recognized as legal “persons,” and then joined Lori Marino as co-founder of the Whale Sanctuary Project.

Michael is co-author of the paper “I Am NOT an Animal!” Denial of Death and the Relationship Between Humans and Other Animals.

Advisory Committee

David B. Casselman, JD, Senior Partner, Wasserman, Comden, Casselman & Esensten, L.L.P.

David is a well-known trial lawyer, speaker, expert, law professor and published author. He has been AV rated by Martindale Hubbell for decades and has been consistently selected as a Southern California “Super Lawyer”. David is a member of the American Bar Association, Los Angeles County Bar Association and the San Fernando Valley Bar Association. He is a past President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA); a past California President of ABOTA and a long time National Board member of ABOTA. David is well known for his pro bono work, litigating and mediating disputes involving animal welfare, including a suit to close the elephant exhibit at the Los Angeles Zoo. He is also the Founding Director of the Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary, and Elephants in Crisis.

Jane Desmond, PhD, Professor of Anthropology and affiliated faculty in Gender/Women’s Studies, Univ of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

In addition to her positions in Anthropology and Gender/Women’s Studies, Jane is currently Director of the International Forum for U.S. Studies, a center in International Programs. Her primary areas of interest are in embodiment, display, and social identity. Her areas of expertise include performance studies, critical theory, visual culture (including museum studies and tourism studies), the critical analysis of the U.S. in global perspectives, and, most recently, the political economy of human/animal relations. She has previously worked as a modern dancer and choreographer, and in film, video, and the academy. She is the author of Staging Tourism: Bodies on Display from Waikiki to Sea World, and is working on a book on human relations to dead animals.

Debra Durham, PhD, Ethologist and primatologist.

Debra’s work encompasses the study of animal behavior with regard to their emotional, psychological and behavioral responses to change and stress – especially those held in captivity and used for experimentation. She is actively involved in teaching, research and writing related to these topics, and to animal protection more generally. Debra has held positions with leading non-profits as well as the federal government. As an educator, she has lectured at the University of Washington, Cornish College of the Arts and the University of California, Davis.

Ferdowsian-2016-smHope Ferdowsian, MD, MPH, FACP, FACPM, is president and CEO of Phoenix Zones Initiative. Over two decades, as a double board-certified internal medicine and preventive medicine physician, Hope has cared for individuals who have experienced displacement and violence, while she has also worked on policy to address structural inequities and human and animal exploitation.

Her work across six continents has included collaboration with the Office of the Surgeon General of the United States and the development of medical, public health, and educational resources for nongovernmental organizations, national governments, and intergovernmental organizations such as the World Health Organization. As a result of her work in these areas, Hope was named a Humanitarian of the Year in the American College of Physicians in 2017.

Hope has authored highly cited publications and has spoken at academic institutions and through media outlets across the globe. Her work has been featured through Scientific American, HuffPost, the Times Literary Supplement, the BBC, Voice of America, the Japanese Broadcasting Corporation (NHK), and other international news outlets.

Many of her publications, including her book, Phoenix Zones: Where Strength Is Born and Resilience Lives, focus on ethics, global public health, and the link between human, animal, and environmental rights, health, and wellbeing. In 2019, she co-founded Phoenix Zones Initiative to translate insights in the book into a movement for systemic change.

Hope received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Southern California, a doctor of medicine degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, and a master’s degree in public health from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She completed a medical internship at Yale University-Griffin Hospital, a preventive medicine residency at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and an internal medicine residency at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

She served as an assistant professor at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, an associate professor at Georgetown University School of Medicine, and she now serves as an associate professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.

Carrie-Freeman-smCarrie Packwood Freeman, PhD, is Professor of Communication at Georgia State University. She is a critical/cultural studies scholar who studies media ethics, communication strategies for social movements, and the media’s construction of nonhuman animal and environmental issues, in particular, animal agribusiness and veganism.

Her books include Framing Farming: Communication Strategies for Animal Rights, a co-edited collection Critical Animal & Media Studies, and a 2020 book with UGA Press The Human Animal Earthling Identity: Shared Values Unifying Human Rights, Animal Rights, and Environmental Movements. She has also published articles in over 20 academic books and journals. Open access to final drafts of most of her published work is available here. In 2014, she and Debra Merskin published a unique media style guide that aids journalists, advertisers, PR practitioners, filmmakers and entertainment producers in the production of more respectful and responsible representations of animals (nonhuman).She’s been active in the animal rights and vegetarian movement for over two decades and has served as a volunteer director for local grassroots groups in three states.

Freeman currently co-hosts radio programs on animal rights (Second Opinion Radio) and environmental issues (In Tune to Nature), both on Radio Free Georgia.

Toni Frohoff, PhD, Executive Director, TerraMar Research.

Toni is a wildlife ethologist and behavioral biologist who has specialized in marine mammals – and more recently, elephants – for over 30 years. She has expertise in studying and addressing the wellbeing and psychology of animals both in captivity and in the wild – with an emphasis on the impacts of human interaction. She is also recognized for advancing interspecies science, including the formalization of Interspecies Collaborative Research with Lori Marino.

Her most recent book chapters include Marine Mammal Ethics, Conversing with Dolphins: The Holy Grail of Communication? and Interspecies Ecocultural Identities in Human-Elephant Cohabitation. Toni has co-authored two books (Dolphin Mysteries: Unlocking the Secrets of Communication (Yale University Press), and Between Species: The Dolphin-Human Bond (UC Press/Sierra Club Books), contributed numerous scientific papers and presentations, and written chapters in more than two dozen books and encyclopedias. She lectures widely and her work has been featured extensively in documentaries and international media.

Toni continues to serve as a consultant to diverse private, government and nonprofit organizations. She has served on numerous task forces, boards, and committees and her work has contributed to the revision and implementation of management and legislation protecting marine mammals in captivity and in the wild in over a dozen countries.

Denise Herzing, PhD, Founder and Research Director of the Wild Dolphin Project has completed 35 years of her long-term study of the Atlantic spotted dolphins inhabiting Bahamian waters. She received her B.S. in Marine Zoology; her M.A. in Behavioral Biology; and her Ph.D. in Behavioral Biology/Environmental Studies.

Denise is an Affiliate Assistant Professor in Biological Sciences at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida. Dr. Herzing is a 2008 Guggenheim Fellow, a fellow with the Explorers Club, a scientific advisor for the Lifeboat Foundation and the American Cetacean Society, and on the board of Schoolyard Films. In addition to many scientific articles, she is the coeditor of Dolphin Communication and Cognition, author of Dolphin Diaries: My 25 years with Spotted Dolphins in the Bahamas and The Wild Dolphin Project (2002).

Coverage of her work with the spotted dolphins has appeared in National Geographic Magazine 1992 and 2015, BBC Wildlife, Ocean Realm and Sonar magazines, and featured on Nature, Discovery, PBS, ABC, BBC, NHK, PBS, and TED 2013.

Brian M Lowe, PhD, Assoc Professor, Sociology Dept, SUNY College at Oneonta.

Brian received his BAH (Bachelor of Arts, Honors, Sociology) and Master’s degree in Sociology from Queen’s University at Kingston, Ontario and his PhD in Sociology from the University of Virginia. His research and teaching interests include sociological theories, animals and society, cultural and comparative-historical sociology and spectacular conflicts. He is the author of Emerging Moral Vocabularies: The Creation and Establishment of New Forms of Moral and Ethical Meanings (Lexington books, 2006), is a contributor to The Handbook of the Sociology of Morality (2010) and numerous articles. Brian was the Chair of the Animals and Society section of the American Sociological Association from 2008-2009.

Randy Malamud, PhD, Professor and Assoc Chair, Modern Literature, Ecocriticism, Cultural Studies Dept of English, Georgia State Univ.

Randy is a scholar of T.S. Eliot’s dramatic work and also well known for his work in the area of the cultural analysis of zoos and spectatorship. He has written several books in this area including the seminal Reading Zoos: Representations of Animals and Captivity (1998, New York University Press) and his more recent Poetic Animals and Animal Souls (2003, Palgrave MacMillan), both bringing a penetrating level of scholarly analysis to the representation of animals in literature and the implications for society’s views and treatment of other animals.

Randy is a Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics. He is on the faculty of the Kerulos Center. He serves on the Editorial Boards of Society & Animals, Brill’s Human-Animal Studies book series, and Palgrave Macmillan’s Book Series on Animal Ethics. He is also an international associate of the New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies at the University of Canterbury and a Patron of the Captive Animals’ Protection Society.

Debra Merskin, PhD, Professor of Media Studies, School of Journalism and Communication, University of Oregon.

Debra’s work focuses on the representation of marginalized beings in media, historical studies and the psychological influences of media representation. Her research appears in numerous journals, and her books include Media, Minorities, & Meaning: A Critical Introduction (2011), Sexing the Media (2012), and Seeing Species: Re-presentations of Animals in Media & Popular Culture (2018).

Her recent work extends the concepts of racism and sexism to speciesism, exploring shared underpinnings and outcomes among humans and other-than-human animals, particularly as represented in mass media. She has authored numerous papers on depth psychology and animals, and, with Lori Marino, co-authored “Intelligence, complexity, and individuality in sheep” in Animal Sentience.

She has created courses such as Animals and the Media and Communicating Nature. She is on the advisory board of Predator Defense, a Eugene, Oregon, non-profit.

Nathan Nobis, PhD, , Morehouse College; Adjunct Professor, Community Health and Preventative Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine; former Adjunct Instructor, Animal Studies, Humane Society University, Washington, DC. 

Nathan’s research and teaching interests are in primarily in philosophical ethics, especially bioethics, and critical thinking. He is the author of the open-access introductory text Animals & Ethics 101: Thinking Critically About Animal Rights, co-author of the open-access introductory text Animals & Ethics 101: Thinking Critically About Animal Rights, co-author of the open-access introductory text Thinking Critically About Abortion, a co-author of Chimpanzee Rights, and many other articles, chapters, and reviews. He is editor of 1000-Word Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology and an associate editor of Between the Species: A Journal for the Study of Philosophy and Animals.

Diane Richards is a freelance writer and the former Director of Development at Marine Applied Research & Exploration (MARE), an ocean exploration and conservation non-profit organization in the San Francisco Bay Area.

With more than 20 years of non-profit experience, Diane has a diverse background that combines fundraising with science communications at a wide range of nonprofits ranging from academic to conservation and scientific research.

As a member of the outreach team for Tagging of Pacific Predators (TOPP), she worked with colleagues at the Monterey Bay Aquarium to raise awareness of the ambitious, multidisciplinary research project and to strengthen relationships with key stakeholders. She has also worked under contract for NOAA’s Northwest Pacific Fisheries Science Center, co-led a website redesign with the marketing team at the Trust for Public Land, and launched the membership program at The SETI Institute.

An avid scuba diver, Diane is passionate about the ocean, the natural world, protection and respect for all the species with whom we share our planet.

ursula-smUrsula Schwuttke, PhD, Director of Educational Outreach at the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, where she is responsible for their youth outreach programs related to science education. Ursula’s research interest is in informal science learning and its impact on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) achievement and motivation. She founded and launched a non-profit organization, Partners in Algebra Achievement, that sets up long-term relationships between at-risk students and members of the local professional community.

At NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where she led a research and development group that pioneered new software technology, she was involved with the Voyager, Galileo  and Cassini missions, and was awarded the prestigious Exceptional Achievement Medal by NASA. After 12 years at JPL, she licensed some of that technology to found High Tower Software, and to commercialize ‘big data’ applications in network security and finance.

Ursula was a finalist for Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award in California. She is passionate about environmental issues and serves on the board of directors of the Florida not-for-profit organization Withlacoochee Aquatic Restoration.

Con Slobodchikoff, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Biology Dept, Northern Arizona University; Director, Animal Language Institute, Flagstaff, Arizona,

Con is well known for his ground-breaking work on communication and social behavior of prairie dogs. His work demonstrates that prairie dogs have a complex communication system with many similarities to human language. Con is also very involved in advocating for the welfare and survival of prairie dogs in the wild. He is the author of numerous empirical and theoretical publications and is lead author, along with Bianca S. Perla and Jennifer L. Verdolin, of the book: Prairie Dogs: Communication and Community in an Animal Society (2009, Harvard University Press).

In 2010, Con participated in the filming of a BBC documentary on prairie dogs, based partly on his work with prairie dog language. In 2008 he formed the Animal Language Institute,, to create a virtual place for finding and sharing research in animal communication. He is also President and CEO of Animal Communications Ltd., Con consults on pet behavior problems, and co-writes the Dog Behavior Blog with Karen London to provide tips on solving behavior problems and short essays about some of the scientific research that is being done with dog behavior.

TWhiteThomas I. White, PhD, Conrad N. Hilton Professor in Business Ethics and Director, Center for Ethics and Business, College of Business Administration, Loyola Marymount University.

Tom received his doctorate in philosophy from Columbia University and taught at Upsala College and Rider University before moving to California in 1994. His publications include five books (Right and Wrong, Discovering Philosophy, Business Ethics, Men and Women at Work and In Defense of Dolphins) and numerous articles on topics ranging from 16th-Century Renaissance humanism to business ethics. His most recent research has focused on the philosophical and ethical implications of scientific findings on dolphin intelligence. His book In Defense of Dolphins: The New Moral Frontier (2007) addresses the ethical issues connected with human/dolphin interactions in captivity, the fishing industry, and other contexts.

Tom is a pioneer in putting forth the concept of dolphin personhood, and in 2010 organized a ground-breaking symposium entitled “Intelligence of Dolphins: Ethical and Policy Implications” at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in which he and others advocated for dolphins as nonhuman persons. He is a Scientific Advisor to the Wild Dolphin Project, a research organization studying a community of Atlantic spotted dolphins in the Bahamas. He served as U. S. Ambassador to the United Nations’ Year of the Dolphin Program in 2007-8. He is also one of the founding authors of the “Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans: Whales and Dolphins.”

Steven M. Wise, JD, President, Center for the Expansion of Fundamental Rights, Inc. and Director of the Nonhuman Rights Project.

Steve holds a J.D. from Boston University Law School and a B.S. in Chemistry from the College of William and Mary. He has practiced animal protection law for 30 years throughout the United States and is admitted to the Massachusetts Bar. He teaches “Animal Rights Jurisprudence” at the Vermont, Lewis and Clark, University of Miami, and St. Thomas Law Schools, and has taught “Animal Rights Law” at the Harvard Law School and John Marshall Law School. Steve is the author of four books: Rattling the Cage – Toward Legal Rights for Animals (2000), Drawing the Line – Science and the Case for Animal Rights (2003), Though the Heavens May Fall – The Landmark Trial That Led to the End of Human Slavery (2005), and An American Trilogy – Death, Slavery, and Dominion Along the Banks of the Cape Fear River (2009), and working on a fifth, which will be a memoir about the Nonhuman Rights Project. He has also authored numerous law review, encyclopedia, and popular articles.

His work for the legal rights of nonhuman animals was highlighted on Dateline NBC and was the subject of the documentary, A Legal Person. He regularly travels the world lecturing on animal rights jurisprudence and the Nonhuman Rights Project and is a frequent guest on television and radio discussing animal rights law and the Nonhuman Rights Project.