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Leading dolphin expert receives Zoological Society of London's Scientific Medal

Dr Stephanie King, who has been awarded the Zoological Society of London’s Scientific Medal

Dr King and her team with dolphins around their boat

Press release issued: 23 October 2023

A University of Bristol academic specialising in dolphin social behaviour has scooped the Zoological Society of London’s (ZSL) Scientific Medal.

Each year for the past 62 years the Medal has been awarded to up to three highly regarded academics for their “distinguished work in Zoology”.

Dr King’s research looks at how dolphins interact with individually distinctive whistles, and how vocal communication can mediate complex social behaviours, like cooperation, in animal communities.

Dr King said: "I’m thrilled to receive this award from the ZSL. There is simply nothing I would rather do than scientific research and zoology. To be recognised for my contributions in this area, and to follow in the footsteps of so many researchers for whom I have immense respect, is deeply humbling.

“I have worked hard to push the field of cetacean biology forward by utilising state-of-the-art technology and playback experiments to study social cognition in the wild. I am privileged to work on a remarkable dolphin population and with a collaborative team of international researchers.

“I’d also acknowledge my research group, who inspire me to be the best scientist and mentor that I can be.”

Dr King’s research has been featured on the BBC and last year she beat 700 other academics to be awarded $1.44million for her project called ‘The Social Origins of Rhythm’. 

Stephanie King joins a distinguished list of ZSL Scientific Medal recipients, including Professor Sir Ian Boyd, JR Krebs, Sir Patrick Bateson, Sunetra Gupta and fellow University of Bristol academic Emily Rayfield.

Dr King added: "This award has inspired me to keep driving forward because it reminds me that this type of fundamental research is highly valued."

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