Heather Hill, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Psychology, St. Mary’s University


Dr. Heather Manitzas Hill completed her bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Texas A&M University, College Station with a minor in Oceanography in 1996.  She earned her master’s (2000) and doctoral (2003) degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi under the mentorship of Dr. Stan Kuczaj.  After 3 years working as a research assistant at the Navy Marine Mammal Program in San Diego, CA with Dr. Sam Ridgway, she returned to her hometown of San Antonio, TX.  Dr. Hill has been teaching psychology at St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, TX since 200,7 is currently the chair and a tenured, professor.

Research Summary

Dr. Hill spent the first 10 years of her marine mammal career conducting research on the mother-calf relationship and social development of bottlenose dolphins in human care.  She also studied mirror self-recognition and mirror use in dolphins and sea lions.  In 2007, she started studying the social behavior and cognitive abilities with belugas at SeaWorld San Antonio.  She has also studied mother-calf interactions and calf development with killer whales.  More recently, she has collaborated with Dr. Kathleen Dudzinski on several projects involving contact, maternal care, creativity, welfare, and socio-sexual interactions across several species.  Currently, Dr. Hill has active collaborations with Dr. Deirdre Yeater, Dr. Melissa Karlin, Dr. Lauren Highfill, Dr. Malin Lilley, SeaWorld, Georgia Aquarium, Marineland Cote d’Azur, and the Houston Zoo.