About Us

The Outer Banks Center for Dolphin Research was incorporated as a 501 c(3) non-profit organization in 2008. Here are some of the people that make the research and outreach possible:

Executive Director: Jessica Taylor

While completing my undergraduate studies in Marine Sciences at Rutgers University, I realized a strong interest and passion for dolphin research and conservation. After receiving my Bachelors of Science, I completed internships with the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program and the Marine Mammal Behavioral Ecology group at Texas A&M University as well as worked as a research technician for the Rutgers University Marine Field Station. I received a Masters of Environmental Management degree from Duke University. My Masters Project focused on the foraging ecology of bottlenose dolphins in Sarasota, FL. Since receiving my Masters, I have worked as a contract biologist for NOAA studying Stellar sea lions in Alaska and bottlenose dolphins in South Carolina and North Carolina and a science teacher for Dare County Schools. I am also employed by the Nags Head Dolphin Watch as a naturalist and intern coordinator. I live with my husband, Jay, two children, one dog, and five chickens in the Outer Banks.

Scientific Advisor: Kim Urian

I received an undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado Boulder and then worked as a research assistant at the University of California at Santa Cruz with Dr. Ken Norris and Dr. Randy Wells.  I received a Masters degree from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington on the community structure of bottlenose dolphins in Tampa Bay, Florida. I am currently employed as a Research Analyst at Duke, where I supervise the photo-identification programs for several species of odontocetes.  I am also the curator of the Mid-Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin Catalog.  I live with my husband, Andy, in an old farmhouse near Beaufort, NC  with chickens, horses, cats and a rabbit.

Volunteer Coordinator: Liah McPherson

Raised in Southern Shores, Liah is an OBX local and lifelong ocean addict.  A Biology and Cognitive Science student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she researches phytoplankton, corals, and most passionately, dolphins.  She has been a research and outreach volunteer with the Outer Banks Center for Dolphin Research since 2012, and has been on the board of directors since 2013.  In 2017, she became a field assistant for the Wild Dolphin Project, and now spends her summers studying wild Atlantic spotted dolphins.  An avid freediver, photographer and traveler, Liah is always searching for opportunities to explore and protect marine environments.

Intern: Julia Jacobs

Julia Jacobs graduated from North Carolina State University in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources. She has conducted research on Key deer throughout her undergraduate studies. She spent a summer as a research tech on Bald Head Island studying Painted buntings and a summer in Iceland conducting photo identification on cetacean species found in their waters. Julia hopes to attend Graduate school studying ecology.  She enjoys environmental education and conducting research and has a passion for photography and is very excited to spend a summer working with the OBXCDR where she can combine all of these passions. 

Intern: Mackenzie Reed


Our efforts are also made possible by collaborating with scientists from other organizations throughout the country. These scientists make valuable contributions to our research program:

Leslie B. Hart, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Public Health

Department of Health and Human Performance, College of Charleston

Jeff Adams, Marine Resource Management Specialist

National Marine Fisheries Service, Office of Protected Resources

Holly Fearnbach, Ph.D., Marine Mammal Research Director

SR3, SeaLife Response, Rehabilitation, and Research

 Shauna McBride-Kebert, Ph.D., Research Assistant

Chicago Zoological Society’s Sarasota Dolphin Research Program

Keith Rittmaster, Natural Science Curator

North Carolina Maritime Museum

2018 Dolphin Research Board Members

President: Jay Taylor

Treasurer: John Kerner

Board Member: Christin Brown

Board Member: Kara Shervanick

Board Member: Sue Scarborough

Board Member: Rachel Potts