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$5,000 first prize — $2,500 second prize — $1,000 third prize

In honor of the contributions of Mike Heithaus and Sam Gruber, the Gruber Family invites undergraduate Marine Sciences students to participate in the Dr. Mike/Doc Gruber Marine Science Essay contest.

Dr. Michael Heithaus scuba dives among corals

Dr. Mike Heithaus, dean of the College of Arts, Sciences & Education, is a marine ecologist who studies the ecological importance of sharks and other large marine species. He is the principal investigator and co-principal investigator on grants totaling $28 million, using drones, animal-borne cameras and other cutting-edge technology to unravel the mysterious lives of hard-to-study marine creatures. His work in Shark Bay, Australia, is the world's most detailed study of the ecological role of sharks.

Before joining FIU, Dr. Heithaus was a scientist at Mote Marine Laboratory's Center for Shark Research. He also worked with National Geographic's Remote Imaging Department where he conducted studies using their "Crittercam." He has been involved in the production of more than a dozen natural history documentaries, including two featured on Shark Week, and has hosted a National Geographic Channel television series.

Dr. Samuel "Doc" Gruber stands in the water holding a small shark

Dr. Sam "Doc" Gruber (1938-2019) was dedicated to advancing knowledge of sharks and the organization of shark research throughout his life. In 1983 he initiated the idea of the American Elasmobranch Society, a nonprofit advancing the study of sharks, rays and related species. He was also the founder and director of the Bimini Biological Field Station, a Bahamas-based nonprofit engaged in shark research and education. He taught as a professor at the University of Miami, his alma mater.

To apply, submit a 1,000-word essay on the theme: "Marine conservation in the present and moving into the future." The contest is open only to undergraduate Marine Sciences students. The submission deadline is March 15.

  • First place: $5,000
  • Second place: $2,500
  • Third place: $1,000

For more information, contact Dr. Yannis Papastamatiou.