Sophia Gunther

Sophia is from just outside of Kansas City, Missouri, where she graduated from Park University with a Bachelor’s in Biology in May of 2021. Focused primarily on going to medical school, her extracurricular background includes work within the special needs community and oncology outreach. However, a love for sharks and ocean life was always had and she is ecstatic to be pursuing that passion further as well! During undergrad, she got involved in elasmobranch paleobiology research and is currently working on a publication with her advisor Dr Brian Hoffman over extinct genus’ of stingrays and their tooth microstructure. This research, along with a lifelong passion for marine life despite being in the middle of the US encouraged her to pursue field work experience at Bimini. During her internship she hopes to not only learn more about her favorite animals, but about research practices and conservation as a whole, and then apply those skills in whatever specialty she finds herself in in the future!


Wanda Ortiz

Wanda is a graduate student from "Borinquen" (Puerto Rico). She studied Biology and Industrial Microbiology at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. At this same institution, she is now completing her master's degree in Biological Oceanography focusing on Shark Biology and Outreach.


Currently, she is also working as a marine educator at Sea Grant Puerto Rico and, on the side, developing Little Women, Big Sharks LLC as president and co-founder. Wanda aspires to become a full-time researcher and educator as means to spread awareness and share important information about the sharks and rays of Puerto Rico to her fellow Boricuas.

Wanda is the second recipient of the MISS Elasmo and Bimini Shark Lab Internship Scholarship.


Ilijah Louis

Ilijah has been interested in science from an early age. Coming from the Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago, the saltwater has never been a stranger to him.  Early exposure lead him to understand that at one point, more knowledge was known and available on the surface of the moon than of the waters found on the earth. His interest and desire to learn more on this diverse environment has always represented itself in a yearning for adventure from activities such as rock climbing, rappelling, kayaking, swimming, snorkelling and diving, all of which has been an asset to his field-based work. Interest in the Shark Lab peaked after the great opportunity to have a conversation with Dr. Dean Grubbs where he spoke about his work with BBFS and the diving patterns of six gill sharks. Right after graduating from undergrad he saw and applied for the Media Internship at the Lab, which didn't quite work out for him. But what did work out was a couple of months later the offer of the new Doc Gruber Memorial Scholarship, which he eagerly accepted and is thrilled to be  experiencing life in the Lab, the thrilling research and never ending field work it engages. From field work, to research, to production everything and all he is ready to be a part of.


Kyra Shelley

Despite growing up in Charlotte, North Carolina, with little experience in the ocean, Kyra developed a passion for marine conservation. Her first experience in the field was working with an ecotourism company in South Africa which focused on white shark conservation and education. Kyra then became involved in coral reef restoration, learning both ocean and land-based techniques. She has since worked as a coral technician in both the Pacific and Caribbean, maintaining, monitoring, and out planting coral fragments. By volunteering at BBFS, she aims to learn more about the apex predators which maintain the essential balance of coral reef ecosystems. Kyra is also excited to learn more about the field techniques of BBFS and identify methods which may overlap in both shark research and coral restoration.


Randy Thomas

Randy is an Environmental Scientist with a Counseling minor from the University of Toledo. In Ohio, Randy studied and participated in herpetological research, yet channeled his childhood passions to pursue marine life. The Detroit, MI native stepped out on faith to travel the world and pursue his dreams. After working as a marine science educator, naturalist, and venturing into wildlife media, Randy was able to learn more about the ocean; especially sharks! Randy had the opportunity to visit the Shark Lab in the Fall of 2020 where he fell in love with the staff and mission of the foundation. Randy's mission is to bridge the gap between wildlife and humanity through education, adventure, and outreach, and feels that his time at the lab will assist in that. Randy is a recipient of the Doc Gruber Memorial Scholarship.


Alina Hussey

Alina recently graduated from the University of Windsor in September 2021 with an undergraduate degree in Liberal Arts and Professional Studies. During her degree she was able to gain interdisciplinary experience which involved classes in organizational management, environmental science, and sociology. Alina first worked in the field when she was an intern at the Vamizi Conservation and Research Centre, based on Vamizi Island in Northern Mozambique. This first look into the practical aspects of the scientific process inspired her to seek other opportunities to expand her skillset... inspiring her interest in the Shark Lab! She is very interested in tackling problems related to science communication and hopes to complete a master's in marine and coastal management in the next few years.


April Hollamby

April grew up in Berkshire, England and has always been passionate about marine life. She moved to Wales and studied at Swansea University to eventually receive her Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology (June 2018). During her time at Swansea, she developed a keen interest marine predator research and biologging techniques. Scuba diving also became a large part of her life as she joined the University’s society and took part in diving along the Welsh coast sharing her passion with other fellow divers. Since then, April has received a Masters in Research in Biosciences (2020) where she studied Ploughshare tortoises in Madagascar using Daily Diary Tags exploring her interest in biologging alongside the Durrell Wildlife and Conservation and Swansea Lab for Animal Movement. In order to achieve her goal of further postgraduate study in movement ecology of marine predators (which hopefully involves sharks), she applied to the Bimini Shark Lab to gain valuable experience and to meet other scientists with similar aspirations. 

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