Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Brendan P. Kelly

Adjunct Professor

Dr. Brendan P. Kelly is a marine ecologist with a focus on sea ice environments. He has participated in and led collaborative research in the North Pacific Ocean, the Arctic Ocean, the Sea of Okhotsk, the Baltic Sea, and Antarctica. He has served on numerous national and international science panels and as a science adviser to indigenous organizations in Alaska. 

Dr. Kelly received degrees in Biology from the University of California Santa Cruz (B.A.), the University of Alaska Fairbanks (M.S.), and Purdue University (PhD). Dr. Kelly is employed by the International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks, as the Executive Director of the Study of Environmental Arctic Change and adviser to the Center of Arctic Policy Studies.

His career in Arctic research and policy includes serving on the faculty and administration of the University of Alaska, as a research scientist with NOAA's National Marine Mammal Laboratory, Deputy Director of Arctic Sciences at the National House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Currently, he serves on the National Academy of Sciences' Polar Research Board and as a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Blue Economy, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

The Center for the Blue Economy Welcomes Dr. Brendan P. Kelly as CBE Senior Fellow

September, 2015: The Center for the Blue Economy welcomes Dr. Brendan P. Kelly in his new and dual roles of CBE Senior Fellow and Executive Director of SEARCH: the Study of Environmental Arctic Change. Although Dr. Kelly is employed by the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, pursuing duties as both SEARCH Executive Director and adviser to the Center for Arctic Policy Studies, he will have a "home base" and title of CBE Senior Fellow, an arrangement that offers collaborative benefits between the two institutions. The timing is perfect to have Dr. Kelly available on campus to share his extensive Arctic expertise with the staff, faculty and students of the Middlebury Institute. The CBE's National Ocean Economic Program (NOEP) is expanding its research on economic activity in the Arctic with an eye to how this activity will impact the already shifting natural environment, and the CBE hopes to launch a course on Arctic economics and policy in the spring. The Senior Fellow appointment has an added benefit for Dr. Kelly, allowing him to maintain his residence on a boat in the Monterey harbor with a short commute by bicycle to his CBE office. We welcome Dr. Kelly to the vibrant Middlebury Institute community and look forward to collaborating with him in the year ahead. 

More About SEARCH

SEARCH is a U.S. program with a mission to provide a foundation of Arctic change science through collaboration with the research community, funding agencies, and other stakeholders. SEARCH activities are supported by a collaborative grant from the National Science Foundation Division of Polar Programs, the International Arctic Research Center, and the Arctic Research Consortium of the US. As SEARCH Executive Director, Dr. Kelly will work with the SEARCH Science Steering Committee, part of the collaborative structure of the SEARCH program, to provide leadership and strategic direction and to forge strong cooperative relationships between academia, agencies, and stakeholders.

"Dr. Kelly has long been at the heart of U.S. efforts to strengthen the role of science in understanding and responding to Arctic change", says UMA Bhatt, former chair of the Science Steering Committee. "His vision, research experience and well-established relationships have distinguished him as an important leader for the Arctic research community. We are so pleased that he has agreed to continue his Arctic leadership service as the new Executive Director of SEARCH", she relates in a recent press release announcing his appointment.

"I am excited to be returning to the important work of Arctic research and policy" Dr. Kelly said. "SEARCH continues to provide remarkable leadership in bringing the best science to bear on critical issues in the rapidly changing Arctic. It will be an honor to serve the many scientists contributing to SEARCH's work.


  • Sea ice ecosystems
  • Behavior and ecology of marine mammals
  • Adaptations of marine mammals to sea ice environments

Education History

University of California Santa Cruz

B.A. in Biology 1975

University of Alaska Fairbanks 

M.S. in Biology 1979

Purdue University 

Ph.D. in Biology 1996

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