Snyder joins dolphin acoustics project

Posted on Jan 24 2022

Anika Snyder, the valedictorian of the Saipan International School’s Class of 2020 and is currently a second-year student majoring in Ecology and Conservation in the school of Biology, has been chosen for the University of St. Andrews Dolphin Acoustics Vertically Integrated Project.

This project addresses the challenge of efficiently and accurately analyzing data collected from dolphins using passive acoustic recorders and then developing computer-based algorithms that can be used to efficiently and accurately detect, measure and identify sounds. The output of these algorithms can then be used to examine questions related to the distribution, abundance and behavior of these animals. Researchers at St. Andrews were the first to identify how whistles in bottlenose dolphins are used as individual names.


This specific project is referred to as a “Vertically Integrated Project,” which is an ongoing research project led by an academic supervisor and made up of a team of students from any level of study (the “vertical” aspect). The team of students can come from different subject areas with diverse backgrounds and skills across both arts and science. VIP projects started over 20 years ago at Georgia Tech, where they are described as “a transformative approach to enhancing higher education by engaging undergraduate and graduate students in ambitious, long-term, large-scale, multidisciplinary project teams that are led by faculty.”

The project that Snyder will be working on aims to evaluate, improve, develop and apply detection and classification methods for passive acoustic data collected from dolphins. The specific goals of the project are: 

to evaluate existing methods for detecting, extracting measurements from and classifying sounds produced by dolphins in passive acoustic recordings 

to explore new machine-learning methods for extracting sounds from raw data and classifying them to species 

to develop and implement improved species classifiers using both the improved and existing extraction methods. 

The University of St. Andrews was founded in 1410. It is the oldest university in Scotland and the third oldest university in the English-speaking world. In the 2022 The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, St Andrews ranked as the best university in the UK, as the first university to ever top Oxford and Cambridge in a British ranking. (PR)

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