Staff

Dr. Samuel H Gruber 'Doc'

Dr. Samuel H Gruber 'Doc'

Founder

Dr. Gruber is a recognized authority of shark behavior -both as to field studies and in regard to visually guided behavior, and physiology. He is a longtime member of numerous professional societies and founded the American Elasmobranch Society in 1983. He founded the World Conservation Union's (IUCN) Shark Specialist Group and was its Chairperson between 1991 and 1996.

If you'd like to read more in-depth on Doc's biography, please on the following link: http://www.biminisharklab.com/about/drgruber.

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Matthew Smukall

Matthew Smukall

CEO & Executive Director

At Lab Since: July 2015

From - Orlando, Florida / Kenai, Alaska

Education/Work Experience - PhD student, University of Alaska Fairbanks, School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences

BSc University of Florida, Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
Masters University of Florida, Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences

2009 - Florida Keys, caribbean spiny lobster research project, University of Florida
2009 to 2015 - Fisheries Technician/ Biologist, Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association, Kenai Alaska. Studying salmon populations in Southcentral Alaska, movement patterns of invasive northern pike, and the impact of pike on native salmonids.

First came to the lab in January 2012 and volunteered over 3 winters during leave from work

Research Interests - Movement patterns of sharks. In particular the residency time, dispersal patterns, and philopatry of tiger sharks around Bimini. I am also interested in the use of longlines to assess shark populations and how sharks are interacting with the longlines.

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Maurits van Zinnicq Bergmann

Maurits van Zinnicq Bergmann

Principal Investigator

At lab since: June 2015

From: Vught, the Netherlands

Educational background/Work experience:
2015 - Principal Investigator, Bimini Biological Field Station Foundation; title: Movement networks and habitat preferences of a multi-species elasmobranch assemblage in Bimini, Bahamas. Florida International University, USA.
2011-2013 Master of Science in Marine Biology, University of Groningen, the Netherlands
Masters Research Projects:

University of Groningen, in cooperation with the Bimini Biological Field Station foundation; title: Testing the acoustic detection range of submersible ultrasonic receivers in relation to environmental factors at two shallow-water environments in Bimini, Bahamas
University of Groningen; Elucidating the relationship between the spatio-temporal distribution of close relatives and dispersal rate
University of Groningen; Is a sexy life also a shorter life? Manipulation of reproductive effort using nest manipulation and female stimulation in the three-spined stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus


Research interests: movement and behavioural ecology of free-roaming organisms, movement and co-occurence networks, drivers of movement

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Clemency White

Clemency White

Principal Investigator

At lab since: Volunteer/Intern - April to June 2017;
MSc Project Student - June to September 2018;
Principal Investigator - October 2018 to present

From: Basingstoke, UK

Education/Background: BSc Zoology - University of Bristol, 2016;
MSc Marine Environmental Management - University of York, 2018

I volunteered at the lab from April to June 2017, and I was so fascinated by the current research that I returned to complete a project of my own for my MSc thesis. For this project, I used a modelling technique to compile tracking data collected from lemon sharks since the lab began tracking projects in the early 1990s. I used this method to create a detailed baseline of lemon shark habitat use around the Bimini islands across life stages, inferring ontogenetic shift and the impact of anthropogenic development.

My PhD project focuses on my interest in elasmobranch spatial and sensory ecology and considers the role of different sensory modalities in orientation and navigation. I will also consider how navigation is affected by anthropogenic disturbances and how we can mitigate this, in order to inform sound conservation management that can be replicated in other systems.

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James Whicheloe

James Whicheloe

Station Manager

At lab since: Volunteer/Intern January-July 2015;
Assistant Lab Manager June 2016 - July 2017
Lab Manager April 2018 - Present
From: Kings Hill, Kent (UK)

Educational Background:
BSc Marine Geography, Cardiff University (UK)

Research Interest: UAV Drone Survey population assessments, Dietary Analysis and feeding patterns of sharks, hydrographic and bathymetric surveys.

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Sophie Prendergast

Sophie Prendergast

Assistant Lab Manager

From: San Diego California

Education: B.S. in Biology and a minor in Environmental Policy from the University of Puget Sound

Reasons for coming: I have been passionate about the ocean and its many ecosystems from a young age. It is this passion for marine life that ultimately lead to my interest in sharks and their role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. I hope that through my time here at the Bimini Shark Lab I am able to expand my knowledge and field skills before returning to school to obtain a masters in Marine Ecology. In the future I plan to pursue a research career aimed at gaining a better understanding of interspecies interactions between various trophic levels with the hopes that this information can assist in more effective conservation of marine ecosystems and management of their resources.

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Chessie Mason

Chessie Mason

Outreach Coordinator

At Lab since: Volunteer/intern April - June 2017
Volunteer/Intern January - April 2018
Volunteer/Intern May - June 2018
Outreach Coordinator Sept 2018 - Present

From: London (UK)

Educational Background/ Research Interests: Graduated with a BSc in Bioveterinary Science from The Royal Veterinary College, University of London with a focus on Infection, Immunity and Pathology. Interested in parasitology and disease pathogenesis in Elasmobranchs.

Reasons for coming:
As a previous volunteer at the lab and through my work with various marine conservation agencies and working as a PADI Divemaster, I loved being able to educate and converse with the public on numerous issues facing marine ecosystems globally. As a world renowned research lab, BBFSF has a far reaching platform that enables it to be able to educate and inspire young scientists, conservationists and the general public on many of these issues. I am excited to be in the position to be able to aid these discussions and contribute to the continued success of the lab and its research projects.

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Sasha

Sasha

Sasha has been with us since late 2014. A Pitbull at heart, she has a lot of love and licks to give around. Sturdy and surprisingly speedy in the sand, Sasha is proving a well-suited play buddy to rough-house outdoors with her canine compatriots at the lab.

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Marie Gruber

Marie Gruber

Lab Mother from Miami

I'm a former fashion designer married to "Doc". Doc says they tie boats to him, so I guess I'm a boat! I help run the Shark Lab by cooking for special events and classes or whenever I go to the Shark Lab. I help organize all the volunteers and keep the files back in the Miami office. I came to Florida back in the '60s from Los Angeles, California on a designing job and met the "Doc". The passion he has for sharks kind of rubbed off on me (not to swim with them or kiss them) but to help him with his work and studies. We raised our own "Mini-Shark Docs", 2 daughters. They both love Bimini and the Shark Lab. They were both instrumental in building and training the early staff. Although they return frequently, they are off on their own careers.

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Dr. Kristene Parsons

Dr. Kristene Parsons

Lab Director and Senior Scientist

At Lab Since: February 2018

From: Bowling Green, Ohio

Education/Work Experience:

PhD Marine Science (2017) Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William & Mary

Dissertation: Age, growth & reproduction of western North Atlantic butterfly rays (Myliobatiformes: Gymnuridae), with the description of two new species

MRes Applied Fish Biology (2004) University of Plymouth, UK

Thesis: Trace metal accumulation and distribution in juvenile lemon sharks (Negaprion brevirostris), their prey, and sediments at Bimini, Bahamas

BSc Biology (2001) Bowling Green State University


I first came to the lab in February 2002 as a volunteer, and continued to participate in various Sharklab research efforts over the years, including the annual census of juvenile lemon sharks in the Marquesas Keys and surveying the adult lemon shark population off Jupiter, FL. After completing my Masters degree, I became the resident Co-Director of the Hofstra University Marine Laboratory in Jamaica, and then contributed to the academic and field science programs at the School for Field Studies Center for Marine Resource Studies in the Turks and Caicos Islands. In 2017 I earned my PhD at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William & Mary, where my research focused on the life history and taxonomy of butterfly rays in the western Atlantic. I am honoured to return to the Sharklab to continue the long tradition of elasmobranch research, education, and outreach that the unique habitats of Bimini have provided over the past 28 years!

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Vital Heim

Vital Heim

Principal Investigator

At Lab Since: September 2016
Principal Investigator since July 2018

From: Frutigen, Switzerland

Current position: PhD student in Zoology at the University of Basel, Switzerland.
Principal Investigator at the Bimini Biological Field Station, Bimini, Bahamas

Current project: My project investigates fishery interactions and spatial dynamics of scalloped, Sphyrna lewini, and great hammerhead, Sphyrna mokarran, sharks to assess the efficacy of hypothetical time-area closures for a better conservation management.

Furthermore, I aim to understand the dynamics of predator-prey interactions and how the absence of a top-consumer affects the mesoconsumers in an ecosystem using S. mokarran and the southern stingray, Hypanus americanus, as a model.

Education: 2012 - 2015: BSc in Biology, University of Bern, Switzerland

Thesis title: "Hypoxia in pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor (pNET) cell lines - Influence on the expression of alternately spliced VEGF isoforms"

2017 - 2018: MSc in Animal Biology, University of Basel, Switzerland

Thesis title: "The effects of dive tourism and food provisioning on the behavior and local space use of the great hammerhead shark, Sphyrna mokarran, in Bimini, the Bahamas"

Research interests: I have strong interests in the behavior, predator-prey interactions, migration patterns, spatial dynamics and physiology of sharks and how these factors influence their role in ecosystem functioning.

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Tory Miller

Tory Miller

Executive Assistant

At lab since: July 2018

From: Columbus, Ohio

Education/Background: Graduated Eckerd College in 2014.
Major Environmental Science Minors Biology and Coastal Management.

Reason for Coming: I have always loved sharks, since I was little. I took a marine biology course with Dr. Szelistowski and knew it was what I wanted to study. I enjoy working for Non Profits. Environmental Conservation has always been my passion and saving the ocean has always been my dream.

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Angela Warrior

Angela Warrior

Station Manager

At lab since: Volunteered in 2014 for 6 months
come back as lab manager June 2018

From: Leeds UK

Educational background: Undergrad in Zoology,
Masters in Marine Environmental Management and Conservation with a focus on shark fisheries, University of York

Research interest: Marine conservation, education and outreach, sharks, sharks and more sharks!

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Ko Chuan Yang

Ko Chuan Yang

Assistant Lab Manager

From: Singapore

At lab since: Volunteer/Intern January-April 2018
Assistant Manager August 2018

Education/Background: I graduated with a BA (Hons) in History from Durham University in England. I've been a professional yacht racer and sailing coach for a long time and have done quite a lot of offshore sailing. I've also worked as a dive guide in Komodo, Indonesia and as a photographer. Being from Singapore I spent two years in the military for my national service.

Reasons for coming: To say it is a childhood dream come true to be here at the shark lab would be a cliche but undoubtedly true! My life has always revolved around the ocean and I've always had a passion for sharks and other marine life but Bimini has given me a keen appreciation for elasmobranch science and the hard work that goes into finding out more about these beautiful creatures. Despite being one of the most advanced countries in the world Singapore still ranks as one of the top traders of shark and unfortunately as a kid the first shark I came across happened to be in a bowl of soup. I hope that by being here I'll be able to bring the issue of shark conservation closer to home and inspire the same change in perception and appreciation that I was lucky enough to experience at a young age.

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Sophie Hart

Sophie Hart

Media Manager

At lab since: June 2018

From: Cambridge, England

Education/Background: I graduated with a BA(Hons) in Marine & Natural History Photography from Falmouth University in Cornwall, England.

Reasons for coming:
I have loved the oceans for as long as I can remember, and I came to the lab to learn and gain experience in a place where I am surrounded by passionate, like-minded people. I am excited to be part of the team here at the Shark Lab and hope that through my work I can help to inspire people to protect the beautiful sharks that are so important to our oceans.

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Matthew

Matthew

Project Student

Matthew is our most recently adopted pitbull. He was rescued in Freeport after hurricane Matthew. We could not resist adopting him and he has now been living a happy life with us at the lab! Matthew is PI Matt's PhD Project Student, assisting him in data collection, paper writing, and daily tasks around the lab!
Matthew's catch phrase: Tag A TIger!

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