Roger Payne, Ph.D.
Roger Searle Payne is an American biologist and environmentalist famous for the 1967 discovery of whale song among humpback whales. Payne later became an important figure in the worldwide campaign to end commercial whaling. Payne was born in New York, New York, and studied at Harvard University and Cornell. He spent the early years of his career studying echolocation in bats (and how their food, moths, avoids them) and auditory localization in owls. Desiring to work with something more directly linked to conservation he later focused his research on whales where he together with researcher Scott McVay in 1967 were the first to discover the complex sonic arrangements performed by the male humpback whales during the breeding season. In 1971, Payne founded Ocean Alliance, an organization working with whale and ocean conservation. Payne has received a United Nations Environment Programme Global 500 Award (1988) and a MacArthur genius award (1984) among other awards for his research.