Ciara Sypherd

Kempner Graduate Fellow
PhD Student in Bioengineering

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Ciara Sypherd is a PhD student in bioengineering at Harvard University, grateful for the support of both the NDSEG Graduate Research Fellowship and the Kempner Graduate Fellowship. Coming from community college and approaching graduate school with an out-of-field background (a BSE in aerospace engineering and a BS in astrobiology and biogeosciences), Sypherd is passionate about no-jargon science communication and improving educational access. Within the Harvard community, they work to promote inclusivity with LGBTQ@GSAS and the Alliance for Disability Action student group. Outside academia, you’ll find Sypherd enjoying the company of their dog, exploring hiking trails, tending to their garden, and expressing creativity through textile arts.

Research Focus

Sypherd’s current research focuses on animal communication, animal cognition,  and machine learning. In their research, Sypherd explores the intricate world of animal communication and cognition by leveraging machine learning techniques to decode signals. From unraveling pig vocalizations to capturing the enigmatic calls of sperm whales with Project CETI, their work spans species to develop common tools for understanding. Currently, they are engaged in deciphering canine cognition through a collaboration with the Evolutionary Neuroscience Lab at Harvard University. This journey has not only provided a rich tapestry of experiences, but has also contributed to a broader, global perspective, particularly through collaborations with the Behavioral Ecology Group at the University of Copenhagen. Sypherd is enthusiastic about advancing the fields of bioacoustics and neuroscience, unraveling the mysteries of the natural world one signal at a time.