A Whale of a Time
The following was adapted from Dr. Matthew S. Leslie’s own words.
One of the hallmarks of the Smithsonian Institution’s James Smithson Postdoctoral Fellowship is the opportunity to gain an understanding of the interplay between scholarship and public policy. In May 2017, Dr. Matthew S. Leslie – the Secretary G. Wayne Clough Fellow (awarded through the James Smithson Fellowship Program) at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) & National Zoological Park (NZP) – was invited to do just that on an international scale.
As an Invited Participant to the Scientific Committee Meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Bled, Slovenia, Dr. Leslie met with national scientific delegates and other invited whale experts from around the globe to present and debate the most recent developments in whale biology in order to give sound scientific advice to the Commissioners of the IWC. Dr. Leslie was tapped to help convene the Southern Hemisphere subcommittee and present a working paper on his research on the evolution and systematic relationships of baleen whales for the Northern Hemisphere subcommittee.
A major goal of the IWC is to conserve and sustain global whale populations. Former Director of the NMNH, the late Dr. Remington Kellogg, helped form the IWC during the 1930s and 40s. In the early years of the IWC, Kellogg served as part of the US delegation to the IWC and would ultimately go on to become the Chairman of the IWC from 1952-54. Dr. Leslie enjoyed walking in the footsteps of Kellogg, contributing to the mission of the IWC, and gaining a more complete understanding of public and international policy – a unique opportunity afforded via Smithsonian Institution and the James Smithson Fellowship Program.