John Hildebrand

Distinguished Professor

John Hildebrand is a professor of oceanography at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego. He is a member of the Marine Physical Laboratory at Scripps and is an adjunct professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

His research focuses on using sound to study marine mammals and the impact of anthropogenic sound in the ocean. Hildebrand’s lab has developed a high-frequency acoustic recording package (HARP) that is capable of long-term acoustic monitoring in remote ocean locations. These instruments are currently deployed in the Arctic, near Hawaii, off the coast of California, and in the Gulf of Mexico. HARPs have revealed new information on the behaviors and seasonal migrations of whales and dolphins. For instance, by examining the songs of blue whales, dialects were discovered that help to discriminate distinct regional populations. Hildebrand’s work also has documented that ocean noise levels from commercial shipping have increased dramatically over the past few decades, raising concerns about the potential impact of ocean noise on marine mammals.

Born in San Diego, California, Hildebrand received a B.S. in physics and electrical engineering from UCSD and a Ph.D. in applied physics from Stanford University. He held a research position at SIO before joining the Scripps faculty. He is currently the Applied Ocean Sciences Curricular Coordinator for the Scripps Graduate Department.

He has served on the Marine Mammal Commission’s board of scientific advisors and is a fellow of the Acoustical Society of America. He is a member of the Society for Marine Mammology. He is the author or coauthor of more than 190 scientific publications.

John Hildebrand also serves as the co-Director of the Scripps Center for Marine Archaeology. He has applied geophysical methods to archaeology including seismic reflection and radar imaging, electromagnetic induction and magnetometry. He has studied offshore landscapes, site formation, and palaeoenvironments offshore from southern California. He has also conducted field studies for identification of ceramic raw materials and ceramic sourcing and typology for Patayan ceramics of western Arizona and southern California, and has collaborated in ethnoarchaeological research on ceramic production and use life in the Peruvian Andes.

John Hildebrand


  • Ph.D. Applied Physics, Stanford University, 1983
  • B.S. Physics and Electrical Engineering, UC San Diego, 1978

Current Classes

  • ECE145, Acoustics Laboratory
  • SIO202, Waves
  • SIOC208, Seminar/Applied Ocean Sciences