Lei Lani Stelle

Professor, Biology

Photo of Lei Lani Stelle

Areas of Expertise

  • Anthropogenic effects on marine mammals
  • Gray whales
  • Marine biology
  • Marine mammals
  • Physiological ecology and behavior of marine mammals
  • River otters
  • Whale watching


Ph.D. Organismic Biology, Ecology, and Evolution; University of California, Los Angeles; 2001

M.Sc. Zoology; University of British Columbia; 1997

B.A. Marine Biology; University of California, Santa Cruz; 1994

For the Media

Contact :
Media Relations


Hedco Hall
P: 909.748.8628
P: 909.748.8920
E: leilani_stelle@redlands.edu

Meet Lei Lani Stelle

Dr. Lei Lani Stelle is a full professor who joined the Department of Biology at the University of Redlands in 2008 after spending six years as an assistant professor at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. She has taught both non-majors and majors courses in introductory biology, along with upper-division courses in comparative animal physiology, marine ecology, mapping animals, marine mammal biology, and research. She is an advocate for study abroad and has led her own travel courses focused on marine conservation to Mexico, the Pacific Northwest, Canada, and Ecuador/Galapagos Islands. 

Her research interests are the physiological ecology of aquatic mammals. Her current projects focus on human impacts on marine mammals in Southern California; including studies on boat disturbance of sea lions, distribution of blue whales, and behavior of dolphins. These projects require technologies such as photo-identification, remote field cameras, theodolites, SCUBA, and GIS analysis. Lei Lani includes student volunteers in her research locally along the California coast throughout the academic year and supports summer research students. 

Dr. Stelle’s research is supported by Earthwatch expeditions and she has successfully obtained grants from a variety of sources totaling approximately $1.5 million. 

Degrees held

Ph.D. Organismic Biology, Ecology, and Evolution; University of California, Los Angeles; 2001

M.Sc. Zoology; University of British Columbia; 1997

B.A. Marine Biology; University of California, Santa Cruz; 1994


Previous teaching experience

Animal Behavior, General Biology, Human Biology, Marine Biology, Ecology of Baja, Zoo Internship, Biology of Marine Mammals (field course in California & British Columbia)

Professional experience

•Associate Professor (tenured) - University of Redlands, Department of Biology, fall 2010-present 

•Vice President - Coastal Ecosystems Research Foundation, 1997-present

•Assistant Professor – University of Redlands, Department of Biology, fall 2008-2010

•Assistant Professor, Rochester Institute of Technology, 2002-2008 

•Lecturer, University of California, Los Angeles, 2001-2002 

•Adjunct Faculty, Santa Monica College, summer 2002 

•Outreach Educator, LAUSD, 1994-2002 

Courses Offered

•Biol 200 – Principles of Biology 

•Biol 334 – Comparative Physiology 

•Biol 320 - Marine Conservation, May term travel course: Pacific Northwest (2010, 2013), California (2009, 2014), Ecuador & Galapagos (2016)

•Biol 460 – Research Topics in Biology 

•EVST 283 – Mapping Animals

•EVST 260/360 – Marine Ecology

•Proudian Honors Seminar: Marine Ecology


Peer-reviewed Articles

Stelle, L.L., King, M.* (2015) “Whale mAPP: Citizen Scientists Contribute and Map Marine Mammal Sightings”. Chapter in Ocean Solutions, Earth Solutions, ESRI Press, Redlands, CA.

Thompson, L.** and Stelle, L.L. (2014) “Prey Preference of the North American River Otter (Lontra canadensis) Evaluated According to Optimal Foraging Theory”. IUCN Otter Specialist Group Bulletin, 31(1): 14-28.

Stelle, L.L., Megill, W.M. and Kinzel, M.R. (2008) “Activity Budgets and Diving Behavior of Gray Whales (Eschrichtius robustus) in Feeding Grounds off Coastal British Columbia”. Marine Mammal Science, 24(3): 462–478.

Stelle, L.L., Blake, R.W., and Trites, A.W. (2000) “Hydrodynamic Drag in Steller Sea Lions (Eumetopias jubatus)” Journal of Experimental Biology, 203: 1915-1923.

Popular Press

Stelle, L.L. (2015) "Technology and GIS Make Citizen Science More Accessible: How the General Public Can Regain the Thrill of Scientific Discovery” ArcNews (Esri); Vol. 27, No. 2.

Stelle, L.L. and Atkins, A.** (2012) “The Conservation Column: Gray Whale Migration” Sport Diver, UK. http://www.sportdiver.co.uk/News/Latest-News/THE-CONSERVATION-COLUMN-The-Grey-Whale-Migration

Case Studies/Lab Activities

Kinzel, M., Stelle, L.L. 2014. “Pacific Cetaceans: Ecological Studies Mapped Using GIS”. Esri Spatial Labs Published Lesson.

Invited Presentations

•Redlands Forum, Esri Headquarters, Redlands, CA, November, 2015.  “Should we be Watching Whales?

•American Cetacean Society, variety of topics presented at chapter monthly meetings at: 

o Hopkins Marine Station, Monterey, CA, October 2015  

o Scripps Institution of Oceanography, May 2015 

o Costa Mesa, June 2013 

o Scripps Institution of Oceanography, June 2011 

o Cabrillo Aquarium, San Pedro February 2009

•Sonoma State University - Biology Department Seminar, Sonoma, CA, September 8, 2015.  “Whale mAPP: How the Public can Help Scientists Map Marine Mammals for Conservation”

•Earthwatch Summit 2014, Keynote Speaker, Harvard University, MA, November 8, 2014. “Anthropogenic Impacts on Marine Mammals in the Southern California Bight”

•Ocean Acidification Workshop hosted by Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, UCSB, CA, October 2010. “Potential Impacts of Climate Change on Gray Whales”

•Genesee River Conference, Regional Planning Council, Mount Morris, NY, October 2007. “River Otter Restoration”

•Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Moss Landing, CA, April 2007. “The Elusive River Otter: Using Traditional and Modern Techniques to Study a Reintroduced population”

•Elmira College, Elmira, NY, November, 2003. “Bioenergetics of Marine Mammals”

Awards, Honors, Grants

•Earthwatch Institute, Research grant, 2000-1 and 2004-11, 2011-current 

•Spatial Communities of Practice – grant for Field based spatial applications, 2015-17 

•LENS Faculty Fellow, Keck Foundation - 2011

•National Marine Fisheries Service, National Marine Mammal Lab grant, 2001-9, 2014

•Canadian Studies, Faculty Enrichment Program grant, 2009 

•American Association of University Women, American Fellow, 2006 

•ESRI Technology, GIS software, 2005 

•International Student Volunteers, Operating grant, 2004-5 

•Full Circle Foundation, Research Grant, 2001-2 

•UCLA, James Memorial Dissertation Award, 2001 

•University Research Expeditions program, Operating grant, 1999-2000