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 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 and Computer Science


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


STAT 141 - Statistics I
STAT 342 - Applied Regression Models

Research Interests

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

Recent Work

New, L., Simonis, J.L., Otto, M.C., Bjerre, E. Runge, M.C. and Millsap, B. (2021) Adaptive management to improve eagle conservation at terrestrial wind facilities. Conservation Science and Practice e449, doi: 10.1111/csp2.449

Pirotta, E., Booth, C., Cade, D., Calambokidis, J., Costa, D., Fahlbusch, J., Friedlaender, A., Goldbogen, J., Harwood, J., Hazen, E., New, L. and Southall, B. (2021) Context-dependent variability in the predicted daily energetic costs of disturbance for blue whales. Comparative Physiology, 9 doi: 10.1093/conphys/coaa137

Lopez, Z.C., Friesen, M.L., Von Wettberg, E., New, L. and Porter, S. (2021) Microbial mutualist distribution constrains spread of the invasive legume Medicago polymorpha. Biological Invasions, 23: 843-856

Reed, J.T., Harcourt, R., New, L., and Bilgman, K. (2020) Extreme effects of extreme disturbance: a simulation based approach to assess population specific responses. Frontiers in Marine Science doi: 10.3389/fmars2020.519845

Pirotta, E., Hin, V., Mangel, M., New, L., Costa, D.P., de Roos, A.M. and Harwood, J. (2020) Propensity for risk in reproductive strategy affects susceptibility to anthropogenic disturbance. American Naturalist doi: 10.1086/710150.

New, L., Lusseau, D. and Harcourt, R. (2020) Dolphins and boats: when is disturbance, disturbing? Frontiers in Marine Science doi: 103389/fmars.2020.00353

Bennion, L.D., Ferguson, J.A., New, L. and Schultz, C. (2020) Community-level effects of herbicide-based restoration treatments: Structural benefits but at what cost? Restoration Ecology doi: 10.1111/rec.13118.

Senigaglia, V., New, L. and Hughs, M. (2020) Close encounters of the dolphin kind: Contrasting tourist support for feeding based on interactions with concern for dolphin welfare. Tourism Management, 77: doi: 10.1016/j.tourman.2019.104007

Pirotta, E., Mangel, M., Costa, D., Goldbogen, J., Harwood, J., Hin, V., Irvine, L.M., Mate, B.R., McHuron, E.A., Palacios, D., Schwarz, L. and New, L. (2019) Anthropogenic disturbance in a changing environment: modelling lifetime reproductive success to predict the consequences of multiple stressors on a migratory population. Oikos, 128: 1340-1357

Peterson, K., Neuffer, S., Bean, M., New, L., Coffin, A. and Cooper, C. (2019) Melanosome maturation proteins Oca2, Mitfa and Vps11 are differentially required for cisplatin resistance in zebrafish melanocytes. Experimental Dermatology, 28: 795-800

Pirotta, E., Schwarz, L., Costa, D., Robinson, P. and New, L. (2019) Modelling the functional link between movement, feeding activity and condition in a marine predator. Behavioural Ecology, 30: 434-445

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”

2nd World Marine Mammal Conference, Barcelona, Spain (2019) Poster “The effects of anthropogenic disturbance in a changing environment on the lifetime reproductive success of eastern North Pacific blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus)”

Western North America Region of the International Biometrics Society, Portland, OR (2019) Oral presentation “Hidden Markov Models for Animal Movement”

Science Communication:
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”