Biology | Writing
Hardworking and devoted to her field, Karen Wylie Pryor is an author and marine mammal consultant whose work combines the tools of ethnology and behaviorism. She was trained as a marine biologist in the 1960s, and has served as a researcher and consultant on marine mammal issues to the fishing industry and to government.
As the daughter of renowned author Philip Wylie, Ms. Wylie Pryor grew up learning the value of words and literature. Although her main passion was science, she was still able to follow in his footsteps by writing articles and popular books about her research and studies. Some of Ms. Wylie Pryor’s books include “Nursing Your Baby,” “Lads before the Wind: Adventures in Porpoise Training,” and “How to Teach Your Dog to Play Frisbee.” The book she authored in 1984 and revised in 1999, “Don’t Shoot the Dog! The New Art of Teaching and Training,” is still considered the standard text on the subject of positive reinforcement-based training of animals and people. She was also the senior editor and contributing editor of Dolphin Societies, a major anthology of open-ocean dolphin research.
During the Reagan administration, Ms. Wylie Pryor was appointed federal commissioner on the Marine Mammal Commission with oversight for all programs involving marine mammals in U.S. waters. In 1997, she formed an educational company, KPCT, to teach modern training to animal handlers, leading to changes in handling methods in much of the dog world and in zoos. She also became co-founder and CEO of TAGteach International, bringing positive methods to applications from sports to autism, and was the scientific adviser to the U.S. Tuna Foundation in Washington, D.C. Ms. Wylie Pryor has been serving as president of Sunshine Books, Inc., since 1992, and has been consulting with the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the National Geographic Society since 1976. Further, she is currently co-principal investigator in a program to develop ways to train medical students.
Ms. Wylie Pryor prepared for her career by earning a Bachelor of Arts in English from Cornell University. She also completed coursework at the University of Hawaii and Rutgers University, and postgraduate coursework at New York University. Additionally, she accrued hands-on experience as a public and video producer at Ohio State University and the University of Kansas, a drama critic for the “Honolulu Advertiser,” and founder and curator of the Sea Life Park Oceanarium in Honolulu.
Keeping abreast of developments in her field, Ms. Wylie Pryor holds memberships with the International Marine Animal Trainers Association, the Association for Behavior Analysis, the Animal Behavior Society, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Authors Guild. Other prestigious organizations she maintains affiliation with include the Marine Mammal Society, the Society of Women Geographers, and the Cosmopolitan Club. Additionally, she lectures at universities in the U.S. and abroad and works with graduate students interested in operant learning and behavior.
Recognized for her achievements in her field, Ms. Wylie Pryor has received the award for contributions to science from the University of North Texas Organization for Reinforcement Contingencies with Animals Association, the Excellence in Media Award from the American Psychological Association, and the Who’s Who Lifetime Achievement Award. She is also featured in Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare, Who’s Who in the West, and Who’s Who of American Women.