About Diana


Diana Reiss is a cognitive psychologist and professor in the Department of Psychology at Hunter College and the Biopsychology and Behavioral Neuroscience sub-program at the Graduate Center, CUNY. She directs a dolphin cognitive research program at the National Aquarium in Baltimore and is a research associate at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in DC where she investigates elephant cognition. She was director of the Marine Mammal Research Program at the Osborn Laboratories of Marine Sciences at the New York Aquarium and co-chair of the Animal Enrichment Program of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). Dr. Reiss served as a science advisor of the Animal Welfare Committee of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Dr. Reiss’s research focuses on cetacean cognition, communication, comparative animal cognition, and the evolution of intelligence. She pioneered the use of underwater keyboards with dolphins to investigate their cognitive and communicative abilities and provide them with more degrees of choice and control. Dr. Reiss and her colleagues demonstrated that bottlenose dolphins and an Asian elephants possess the rare ability for mirror self-recognition previously thought to be restricted to humans and great apes. Her efforts also involve the rescue and rehabilitation of stranded marine mammals including the successful rescue of the renowned Humphrey, the humpback whale in the San Francisco Bay waters. Her advocacy work in conservation and animal welfare includes the protection of dolphins in the tuna-fishing industry and efforts to bring an end to the killing of dolphins in the drive hunts in Japan. Her recent book The Dolphin in the Mirror was released in the fall 2011.


English, French

TED Conference


Areas of Expertise

Marine mammal cognition and communication , animal cognition, animal communication

An idea worth spreading

We need global protection for dolphins and whales.