Mathematics, Computer Science and Statistics

A photo of Dr Leslie New smiling wearing a purple sleeveless top and a green jasper necklace against an out of focus background of green ...
A photo of Dr Leslie New smiling wearing a purple sleeveless top and a green jasper necklace against an out of focus background of green leaves.

Leslie New

Dr New graduated from Cornell University (BS in Natural Resources, 2003) and the University of St Andrews (PhD in Statistical Ecology, 2010). She remained at St Andrews as a post-doctoral fellow, before continuing her research with the US Marine Mammal Commission and US Geological Survey.

She is an applied statistician whose research is aimed at addressing questions of ecological interest, often from both an empirical and management perspective. Her work on evaluating the population consequences of disturbance has focused on quantitatively assessing how observed short-term changes in the individual behavior or physiology of marine mammals due to anthropogenic activities may led to long-term impacts on the effected population. In addition, Dr. New has worked to better understand the risk operating wind turbines pose to bird and bat species, and how to estimate and predict the effects wind facilities will have on wildlife populations.

From a statistical perspective, Dr. New’s research has sought to fully incorporate uncertainty into management and conservation decisions and to develop the statistical tools required to analyze the data collected from innovative technology, such devices intended to deter birds and bats from colliding with wind turbines.

Fun Fact: Dr. New volunteers with the 501st Legion, a Star Wars cosplay organization that supports and raises money for charities around the world. 


Mathematics, Computer Science and Statistics


  • BS in Natural Resources, Cornell University
  • Ph.D in Statistical Ecology, University of St Andrews
  • Post-doctoral Fellow, University of St Andrews


STAT 140 - Statistical Reasoning
STAT 141 - Statistics I
STAT 142 - R Lab
STAT 243 - Biostatistics
STAT 342 - Applied Regression Models
STAT 443 - Statistical Modelling

MATH 341 - Probability
MATH 442 - Mathematical Statistics

CIE 100 - Common Intellectual Experience

Research Interests

  • Statistical ecology
  • State-space and hidden Markov models
  • Bayesian statistics
  • Population consequences of disturbance

Recent Work

Silva, M., Oliveira, C., Prieto, R., Silva, M., New, L. and Pérez-Jorge, S. (2024) Bioenergetic modelling of a marine top predator’s responses to changes in prey structure. Ecology and Evolution, 14: e11135.

Reed, J., New, L., Corkeron, P. and Harcourt, R. (2024) Disentangling the influence of entanglement on recruitment in North Atlantic right whales. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 291.

Pirotta, E., Fernandez Ajó, A., Bierlich, K.C., Bird, C., Buck, L., Haver, S., Haxel, J., Hildebrand, L., Hunt, K., Lemos, L.S., New, L, Torres, L. (2023) Developing physiological dose-response functions for gray whales exposed to anthropogenic stressors. Conservation Physiology, 11.

Fernandez Ajó, A., Pirotta, E., Bierlich, K.C., Hildebrand, L., Bird, C.N., Hunt, K.E., Buck, C.L., New, L., Dillion, D. and Torres, L.G. (2023) Assessment of a noninvasive approach to pregnancy diagnosis in gray whales through drone-based photogrammetry and faecal hormone analysis. Royal Society of Open Science, doi: 10.1098/rsos.230425

Harrison, J., Ferguson, M., New, L., Cleary, J., Curtice, C., DeLand, S., Fujioka, E., Halpin, P., Moore, R.B.T., Van Parijs, S. (2023) Biologically important areas for cetaceans within U.S. and adjacent waters: Updates and an application of a new scoring system. (2023) Frontiers in Marine science, 10:1081893. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2023.1081893 

Willsteed, E.A., New, L., Ansong, J.O., Hin, V., Searle, K. and Cook, A.S.C.P. (2023) Advances in cumulative effects assessment and application in marine and coastal management. Coastal Futures. e18. doi: 10.1017/cft.2023.6

Reed, J., New, L., Corkeron, P. and Harcourt, R. (2022) Multi-state modeling of true reproductive states of individual female right whales provides new insights into their decline. Frontiers in Marine Science. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2022.994481

Joint meeting of Statistical Ecology and Environmental Monitoring and the International Biometric Society Biometrics in the Bay of Islands, Waitangi, New Zealand (2023): Oral presentation: Species distribution models for eagle use in the continental United States.

International Conference on Advances in Interdisciplinary Statistics and Combinatorics, Greensboro, NC (2022): Oral presentation: “Balancing wind energy production and bat fatalities”

24th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, Palm Beach, FL (2022): co-author on oral presentation: “Listening to mothers: modeling the true reproductive states of individual female right whales provides new insights into their decline”

International Statistical Ecology Conference, Cape Town, South Africa (2022): Co-author oral presentation: “Using a Bayesian multi-state mark-recapture model to assess cost of first reproduction and influence of entanglement on recruitment in female North Atlantic right whales”

Virtual Marine Mammals of the Holarctic Conference, Russia (2021) Oral presentation “Assessing Cumulative Effects Using a Threat Severity Framework”

Virtual International Statistical Ecology Conference, Sydney Australia (2020) Oral presentation “Modelling Butterfly Movement Using Multi-scale Hidden Markov Models”

Science Communication:
Ted Talk, Ted x Ursinus College (2023): “The Mathematics of Ecology”

Podcast, Marine Conservation Happy Hour (2020): “Explaining Statistics using Star Wars”

Podcast, Marine Conservation Happy Hour (2020): “Inspiration through Stats in Marine Biology with Dr. Leslie New”

Podcast, Marine Conservation Happy Hour (2020): “How Dr. Leslie New went from Remedial Math to Earn a PhD in Statistics and Now Works on Calculating the Effects of Underwater Noise on Marine Mammals”

Podcast, Marine Mammal Science (2020): “Why Statistical Ecology is So Cool”