Scientist, Artist, Educator, Storyteller
Ben Mirin is an ethno-ornithologist and Ph.D. Candidate at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology where he studies birdsong and human cultures with a mission to make conservation more inclusive. Ben recently returned from a Fulbright Hays Fellowship to Indonesia, where he explored the songbird trade using participatory storytelling research and co-created conservation education programs for Indonesia’s public schools. Ben is a lifelong lover of birds and has recorded their voices to make music as a Wildlife DJ for nearly a decade. His sounds, music, writing, films and television have appeared in National Geographic (where he is an Explorer), BBC, bioGraphic, Smithsonian, Audubon, and the free online game BeastBox hosted by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
My work uses the power of storytelling to make conservation more inclusive. This has been my mission in each stage of my exploration career. First as a Wildlife DJ, I composed music from animal sounds I recorded around the world, using music to engage new audiences in science and amplify the voices of artists living on the front lines of biodiversity loss and climate change. As a filmmaker, artist, and researcher, I have carried this mission further by co-authoring books and research with Indigenous communities, releasing online educational games that activate new learning pathways for millions of schoolchildren, and documenting new and endangered wildlife sounds to inspire conservation before they disappear.
“We can eschew ‘conspicuous innocence’ and instead build a community united by vulnerability, co-creation, and a celebration of diversity in thought and experience. It’s part of what makes our world worth saving, and what will save the world.“
With each creative project, my goal is to share research with new audiences, show them that science can be understood from multiple perspectives, and let them know their gifts and passions are welcome in conservation. In fact, they are urgently needed. I grew up loving wildlife but struggling in science and math, never knowing that other talents could be my pathway into this incredible career. It has been a privilege to explore the world on such personal terms, and my main goal is to foster honest and vulnerable spaces on screen, in nature, and in classrooms, so others can find belonging and be celebrated for who they are. I envision a future where everyone has a seat at the table in conservation, and where our solutions reflect the diversity that makes our world so special.