MacArthur Fellows Program

Roger S. Payne

Zoologist and Conservationist | Class of November 1984

Zoologist and Conservationist
Washington, District of Columbia
49 at time of award
Published November 1, 1984

About Roger's Work

Roger Payne is a research scientist and conservationist who studies the behavior and communication patterns of whales.

Payne has been conducting research on the vocalizations and other behaviors of baleen whales since 1966.  For over three decades, he and his group have studied one of the few remaining populations of Southern right whales off the coast of Patagonia, Argentina.  This project is the longest baleen whale study based upon known, individual whales ever conducted.  Payne has increased public awareness of whales and their behavior through recordings of whale sounds and television specials, such as In the Company of Whales (1992), and through his book, Among Whales (1995).  He investigates imminent dangers to whale populations, such as commercial whaling and fishing practices.  He was a co-writer and co-director of the IMAX film, Whales (1996), which was partly based on his research. 


Payne is the founder and president of the Ocean Alliance and its affiliate, the Whale Conservation Institute, which was founded in 1971 to protect and conserve whales and their environment through research and international education initiatives.  He is also a member of the International Whaling Commission.

Payne received an A.B. (1957) from Harvard University and a Ph.D. (1962) from Cornell University.

Last updated January 1, 2005.

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