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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 students to participate in the Dr. Mike Heithaus & Doc Gruber Biology Essay contest.

The contest is open to BBC General Biology I and II students and to all Marine Biology majors. Students should submit a 750-word essay on one of the following topics:

  • Biology and COVID-19
  • Biology and my future
  • Biology and the path to Nobels


Congratulations to our 2021 winners!

First Place: Danielle Macias
Second Place: Bisma Misbah
Third Place: Asia Dean

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.

For more information, contact Dr. Richard Brinn.

Past Winners

  • 2020

    In honor of the contributions of Mike Heithaus and Sam Gruber, the Gruber Family invited undergraduate Marine Sciences students to participate in the Dr. Mike/Doc Gruber Marine Science Essay contest. Students submitted a 1,000-word essay on the theme: "Marine conservation in the present and moving into the future."

    Congratulations to our winners!

    • First Prize: Yaniela Lorenzo
    • Second Prize: Kevin Pinto
    • Third Prize: Stormie Collins and Caroline Ronveaux