Established in 1990 by Dr. Samuel Gruber, today the Bimini Biological Field Station Foundation (BBFSF) is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization located on the island of South Bimini, Bahamas. The mission of the BBFS Foundation is to advance our knowledge of the biology of marine animals especially the heavily impacted elasmobranch fish fauna (sharks and rays); to educate future scientists at undergraduate and graduate levels; and to disseminate our research results to advance the field of marine science and conservation biology, as well as raise public perception and awareness of sharks and other marine species.
Understanding the biology of sharks and rays and the role that they play in the marine ecosystem through cutting edge field and laboratory research, spanning multiple disciplines such as molecular and behavioural ecology, physiology, conservation and sensory biology.
Educating future scientists through providing opportunities for students, to design and conduct research projects at the undergraduate and graduate level, to complete advanced university degrees in the marine sciences; and through voluntary training as interns, thus advancing their field experience and skills.
Enhancing conservation and awareness through disseminating our results to both the public (tours of our facility, talks, tv documentaries, social media, posters and blogs) and scientists (peer-reviewed journals, conference presentations and posters, fishery reports and books).
MEET THE RESEARCH TEAM
President & CEO - Head of Research
Matt grew up in Orlando, FL with a keen interest in the marine biology, and obtained his Masters Degree in Fisheries and Aquatic Science from the University of Florida. He spent several years working with salmon in Alaska and during breaks from the Alaskan winter, Matt volunteered at the Shark Lab. This began in 2012, and he came back several times to volunteer over the next few years. In 2015, Matt started his PhD research in Bimini through the University of Alaska, and in 2018 finished his PhD classes and exams. Upon hearing of the completion of exams, Doc Gruber immediately declared his retirement and passed the torch onto Matt!
Station Administrator | Research Technician
Jasmine (aka Jaz) grew up outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She attended the University of New England where she earned her Bachelor's degree in Marine Sciences. She partook in shark and fish research while doing her undergraduate degree which is where her passion for shark conservation arose. She is interested in a wide range of research topics which includes how environmental changes impact behavior, movement ecology, and physiology of marine organisms. Jaz joined us in October 2020 as a volunteer and has since moved up to her current role as the Station Administrator here at Shark Lab. She oversees the hiring and management of our volunteers, keeps track of our supplies, and manages day to day operations and communications.
Outreach | Research Technician
After growing up in coastal Maine, Sophia received her Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies at Davidson College in North Carolina in 2017. During her time in undergrad, she spent a semester abroad in the Turks and Caicos Islands with the School for Field Studies Center for Marine Resource Studies. After graduation, Sophia interned at the Shark Lab for 6 months and assisted with data collection for the lemon shark personality study. Following her internship, Sophia attended James Cook University in Queensland, Australia and received her Master of Science in Marine Biology in 2019. Her thesis focused on determining the age and growth of tiger sharks in Western Australia using vertebrae samples. In 2021, Sophia returned to the lab as the Outreach Coordinator and is excited at the opportunity to share the lab’s research with the wider public. Sophia is interested in stress physiology and plans to pursue her PhD in the future.
Research Technician | Station Assistant
Rachel is from Boston, Massachusetts and graduated with a degree in Marine Science at Coastal Carolina University. During her undergrad, she volunteered for Global FinPrint, a worldwide survey of elasmobranchs in coral reef ecosystems, however her interest in sharks peaked when she came to the Shark Lab for a course in 2017. Rachel came back to the Shark Lab as an intern in April 2021 and transitioned into a Station Assistant several months later. In 2022, she will be pursuing her master’s at James Cook University in Australia in hopes of studying the movement ecology of marine megafauna.
Executive Assistant (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Kathryn (Kash) is from Connecticut, has a Bachelor’s of Arts in Environmental Studies from Salve Regina University and a Master’s of Science in Protected Area Management from James Cook University. She is passionate about education, conservation, and the importance of science communications. She first began as an Environmental Educator on Andros, and then moved on to teaching in the classroom. Now she is the Executive Assistant for the Lab expanding her work in the non-profit realm. She is interested in continuing to work on spreading important information on new research, projects, and programs that comes not only from the Lab but also from all over.
Media | Fundraising | Research Technician
Chelle grew up in a small town in Ontario, Canada. After years of travelling and working in the dive industry as a dive instructor, Chelle's interest shifted from teaching diving to learning more about her favourite thing - Sharks! Her first shark research & conservation experience was completing an internship program in South Africa, and a few years later Chelle joined Lab as the Media Manager. Now happily settled in Bimini full time with Matt and Matthew, Chelle is busy creating new Media and Outreach projects, designing and maintaining the Shark Lab website, developing fundraising initiatives, and assisting in all aspects of research activities.
Media Assistant | Research Technician
Baylie graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in December 2020. Growing up and going to college in landlocked states did not give Baylie easy access to the ocean, but she always felt drawn to it. After completing a few projects during her undergraduate studies focusing on marine ecology and conservation, she discovered that marine science is what she was really passionate about. She joined the Bimini Shark Lab as an intern in January of 2021, which made her passion grow even more and has opened many opportunities for her. She has been able to combine her love for shark research and capturing the natural world together as the Media Assistant which she began in August of 2021. Through these many exciting opportunities, she hopes to expand upon her skills and cannot wait to see what it leads to!
Vice President | Guest Experience Manager
Matthew was adopted by the Lab in 2016 and spent almost two years helping (then PI) Matt Smukall with his PhD. Naturally, Matt was smitten with Matthew, and in September 2018 Matthew was fully adopted by Matt and Chelle and brought to live with them in Orlando. Not long after, Matt started his position as Shark Lab CEO, and now Matthew is back in Bimini! His interests include digging for ghost crabs on the beach, chasing invasive iguanas, getting treats from newcomers, performing his best tricks for treats, swimming, looking for sharks, barking at sharks, and helping with construction projects.