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Diana Reiss
Position: Professor, Cognitive and Comparative Psychology
Campus Affiliation: Hunter College
Phone: 212.650.3432
Office Hours: Tuesdays 4-5 p.m.
Degrees/Diplomas: Ph.D. in Speech and Communication Sciences, Temple University
Training Area: Cognitive and Comparative Psychology (CCP)
Research Interests: Marine mammal cognition and communication; Elephant cognition; Comparative cognition, Applied animal welfare; Evolution of intelligence

Dr. Diana Reiss is a cognitive psychologist, marine mammal scientist, and professor in the Department of Psychology at Hunter College and at The Graduate Center, of the City University of New York. She is the Director of the Animal Behavior and Conservation Graduate program in the Psychology Department of Hunter College. Her research focuses on dolphin cognition and communication, comparative animal cognition, and the evolution of intelligence. She applies her research in advocating for global protection for dolphins and whales.

Awards and Grants

  • (2016-2021) National Science Foundation
  • (2014-2016) National Science Foundation
  • (2016-2018).Eric and Wendy Schmidt Fund for Strategic Innovation
  • (2014) Presidential Award for Scholarship and Creativity, Hunter College, City University of New York
  • (2009-2010) PSC-CUNY 39 Research Award #62796-00 40 Developmental and Age-related Aspects of MSR in Bottlenose Dolphins
  • (2008-2009) PSC-CUNY 39 Research Award #60177-38-39- MSR in Asian Elephants


Professional Affiliations and Memberships

  • Society for Marine Mammalogy
  • Sigma Xi The Scientific Research Honor Society
  • Animal Behavior Society
  • American Psychological Association
  • Member CARTA (Center for Academic Training and Research in Anthropology, The Salk Institute)


Courses Taught

  • Animal Thinking & Communication
  • Cognitive Processes
  • Cognitive Ethology
  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Human Communication Processes
  • Small Group and Organizational Communication
  • Language, Thought, and Communication
  • Speech and Communication
  • Basic Processes
  • Graduate Seminar in Animal Cognition & Communication


Selected Publications

  • Reiss, D. and McCowan, B. (1993). Spontaneous vocal mimicry and production by bottlenose     dolphins (Tursiops truncatus): evidence for vocal learning. Journal of Comparative Psychology 107: No. 3, 301-312.
  • McCowan, B. and Reiss, D. (1995a). Quantitative comparison of whistle repertoires from captive adult bottlenose dolphins (Delphinidae Tursiops truncatus):  a re-evaluation of the signature whistle hypothesis. Ethology 100, pp. 194-209
  • McCowan, B. and Reiss, D. (1995b). Whistle contour development in captive-born infant bottle-nose dolphins: a role for learning? Journal of Comparative Psychology 109: No. 3, 242-260.
  • McCowan, B. and Reiss, D. (1995c). Maternal aggressive contact vocalizations toward captive-born infant bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). Zoo Biology, 14: 293-310.
  • McCowan B. and Reiss, D. (1998). Social familiarity influences whistle acoustic structure in adult female bottlenose dolphins. Aquatic Mammals, Vol. 24.1, pp. 27-40.
  • Gubbins, C. McCowan, B., Lynn, S., Hooper, S., and Reiss, D. (1999). Mother-Infant Spatial Relations in Captive Bottlenose Dolphins, Tursiops TruncatusMarine Mammal Science 15(3):  751-765.
  • McCowan, B. Marino. L. Vance, E, Walke, L. and Reiss, D. (2000). Bubble Ring Play of Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus): Implications for Cognition) Journal of Comparative Psychology Vol.114, No. 1, 98-106.
  • Reiss, D. and Marino, L. (2001). Mirror self-recognition in the Bottlenose Dolphin: A case of cognitive convergence, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol.98. No. 10. (5937-5942).
  • McCowan, B. and Reiss, D. (2001). The fallacy of 'signature whistles' in bottlenose dolphins: a comparative perspective of ‘signature information’ in animal vocalizations. Animal Behaviour 62 (6): 1151-1162.
  • Morrison R, & Reiss D. (2018) Precocious development of self-awareness in dolphins. PLoS ONE 13(1): e0189813. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0189813
  • Maust- Mohl, M., Soltis, J. & Reiss, D., (2018) Underwater click train production by the hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) suggests an echo-ranging function, Behaviour. doi.10.1163/1568539X-00003484
  • Ramos. E.A., Maloney, B. M., Magnasco, M.O., & Reiss, D. (2018), Bottlenose Dolphins and Antillean Manatees Respond to Small Multi-Rotor Unmanned Aerial Systems. Frontiers in Marine Science., 12 September 2018 | https/doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2018.00316
  • Vail, C.S., Reiss, D., Brakes, P., & Butterworth, A.  (2019): Potential Welfare Impacts of Chase and Capture of Small Cetaceans during Drive Hunts in Japan, Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science https://doi.org/10.1080/10888705.2019.1574576
  • Kaplan, D.J., Goodrich, S., Melillo-Sweeting, K, & Reiss, D.  (2019) Behavioural laterality in foraging bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), Royal Society Open Science.https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.190929
  • Woodward. F. Sean, Reiss, D. & Magnasco, O. M., (2020) Learning to localize sounds in a highly reverberant environment: Machine-learning tracking of dolphin whistle-like sounds in a pool. PLoS One. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0235155dr biosketchdr