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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. This award will run both in Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 with a total of $17,000 in prizes.

  • Eligibility
    The contest is open only to students from the Marine Biology major and those who attend General Biology I and II lecture at BBC. Students who were previously awarded are not eligible to apply again.
  • Fall 2021 Topic

    What are the biggest conservation threats shark face and what do you envision as ways to improve their conservation? Why should we care?

  • Tips and Guidelines
    • Essays should be well researched with information that is backed by scientific knowledge, be imaginative, thought-provoking and include your thoughts so we can have and insight into your personal views and hopes for the future of the ocean. This is not a course and therefore this should not be a scientific review of the topic.
    • Why does this topic matter to you?
    • Judges will be scientists and graduate students so think about who your audience is and how to grab their attention. Be creative and make your essay interesting.
    • No more than 1,000 words.
    • Put your name on the essay file.
    • Scientific primary and secondary literature should be kept at no more than 4 references but its use is not mandatory.
    • Judges will base selection on four major components:
      1. Understanding of the topic: To what extent did the writer demonstrate a clear understanding of the question and respond with details about his/her experience?
      2. Original thinking relative to the topic: To what extent was the original thinking relative to the subject?
      3. Effectiveness in presenting a point-of-view: To what extent did the writer present his/her point of view?
      4. Literary style, grammar, and spelling.
  • Deadline and Submissions

    The deadline for Fall 2021 entries is November 22.

    Submit Fall entries via e-mail to Yannis Papastamatiou.

  • Award Ceremony Dates

    Winners for Fall 2021 will be awarded during the April 11, 2022 College of Arts, Sciences & Education Student Recognition Awards Ceremony.

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. Yannis Papastamatiou.

Past Winners

  • 2021

    In honor of the contributions of Mike Heithaus and Sam Gruber, the Gruber Family invited undergraduate Marine Sciences students and BBC General Biology I and II students to participate in the Dr. Mike/Doc Gruber Marine Science Essay contest. Students submitted 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 winners!

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

  • 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