Faculty & Staff

Eric Keen

Visiting Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies
B.A., Sewanee: The University of the South, Ph.D., Scripps Institution of Oceanography

emkeen@sewanee.edu

My research in marine science and conservation is focused upon the following interrelated themes:

  1. Strategies of foraging and habitat use in the world’s largest marine predators
  2. New methods in the monitoring and management of whale and seabird populations
  3. The conservation of endangered whales and seabirds within developing coastal areas
  4. The oceanography of whale feeding habitat in temperate fjord systems 

Through my work as a Science Director of BC Whales (bcwhales.org), a Canadian non-profit organization partnering closely with the Gitga’at First Nation, I support the management of traditional waters in critical whale feeding habitat. Our work is currently focused on developing real-time monitoring tools to reduce the impacts of proposed shipping lanes within this important feeding area. I contribute to this work in close collaboration with the Gitga’at, World Wildlife Fund-Canada, and the University of Victoria. 

I am also focused on the risks of marine shipping to important whale feeding areas in California, Oregon, and Washington, which are home to some of the busiest coastal waters in the world. Through my partnership with the Foundation for Marine Ecology & Telemetry Research (marecotel.org), I analyze whale-borne tag data that give us a window into the underwater lives of whales and help us to understand how exactly coastal activities such as whales threaten and disrupt the foraging behavior of the endangered whales. 

Each summer, I teach island geology, hydrology, and coastal oceanography in Sewanee’s Island Ecology Program field school on St. Catherine’s Island, GA. 

Also in summers, I bring a small group of students out to a remote whale research station (https://www.bcwhales.org/land-based-surveys) in northern British Columbia to work with BC Whales on intensive, hands-on, off-grid research in marine mammal monitoring. 

On campus, I teach courses in BiologyEnvironmental StudiesEnvironmental Science, and the First-Year Finding Your Place program. 

I work closely with Sustain Sewanee, the Sewanee Water Campaign, and the Sewanee Greenhouse to promote sustainable living and ocean awareness in the Sewanee community.