Leading the Mystic Aquarium research team is Dr. Tracy Romano, a founder of the field of marine mammal neuroimmunology and leader in the field of marine mammal health. Dr. Romano graduated with a BS in Biology from Saint Michael’s College in Vermont and received her PhD in Neurobiology & Anatomy from the University of Rochester’s School of Medicine. While a graduate student, Dr. Romano spent her summers with the U.S. Navy’s Marine Mammal Program in San Diego investigating neural-immune interactions in beluga whales. Her postdoctoral work built on this research to investigate the marine mammal immune system and the impact of stress and the environment on marine mammal health. After her postdoctoral studies, Dr. Romano established a research laboratory focused on studying stress and the marine mammal immune system at the Navy Base in San Diego. In 2004, Dr. Romano moved her lab to Mystic Aquarium, where she became Vice President of Research and Veterinary Services. She has served in multiple capacities for the organization since that time including oversight of Animal Husbandry, Animal Care, the Animal Rescue Program and Exhibits. Currently, Dr. Romano is Vice President of Biological Research and Chief Scientist; leading a team focused on aquatic animal health and conservation biology.
Numerous professional commendations include induction into the Saint Michael’s College Academic Hall of Fame, Fellowships from the American Society for Engineering Education and National Research Council. She was also a finalist for the Connecticut Technology Council’s Women of Innovation Award. Continuing her scientific contributions to the field of aquatic animal health, Dr. Romano serves on a number of scientific advisory panels and holds joint appointments at multiple universities. She previously held the position of President of the International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine. Dr. Romano has shared her expertise as a mentor to many award-winning students. She has created and implemented a nationally recognized science-based education and cultural exchange program for Native American youth, and has led over 15 field expeditions to the Arctic.