Mya Thompson, Ph.D.
As Co-director of the Cornell Lab’s center for Engagement in Science and Nature and founder of Bird Academy, I spearhead the growth of the platform and the creation of innovative educational tools and online experiences. The mission of Bird Academy is to provide educational opportunities that inspire people to learn and take action to protect birds and biodiversity. I have served as instructional designer and producer for online courses as well as produced and authored a series of web-based interactives and games including Bird Song Hero, Flap to the Future, BeastBox, Wall of Birds, All About Bird Song, All About Fancy Males, and All About Bird Anatomy. I develop partnerships with external educational platforms including the Google Cultural Institute and BrainPOP to bring Lab content to broader audiences. Thanks to the talents of the entire Bird Academy team, Bird Academy won a Gold Award in the Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s Circle of Excellence Program in 2016 for the design and architecture of our website.
I earned my Ph.D. in Neurobiology and Behavior and Cornell University for the research on elephant communication and its implications for conservation. I’ve led workshops and presented at conferences including MIT’s Sandbox Summit, Connected Learning, EdMedia, the International Society for Technology in Education, and the National Association for Environmental Education. I am also the author of a science-focused children’s book series on the Booksy eLearning platform, the picture book Ruby’s Birds, and the graphic novel Winged Heroes from the Cornell Lab Publishing Group.
I first worked at the Cornell Lab as a high school student, analyzing Song Sparrow and humpback whale recordings for the Bioacoustics Research Program. During those first work experiences, I got a healthy dose of the Lab’s innovative culture and commitment to conservation. It stuck with me. All these years later, after becoming a research biologist and working on science education projects all over the country, it’s rewarding to be back at the Lab working in a role that forwards the Lab’s mission to engage and educate people far beyond our walls.