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FIU shark experts list
Photo courtesy of Global FinPrint

FIU shark experts list

June 30, 2021 at 12:03pm


FIU has some of the top marine researchers in the country, including several focused on the science of sharks. They are available for interviews in English, Spanish, French and Greek.

Members of the FIU Media Relations team are available to assist in contacting experts:

Mike Heithaus
Marine Ecologist and Dean of the College of Arts, Sciences & Education

FIU Institute of Environment
Well-known internationally through his research on the ecological role of large sharks both in Australian and Florida waters, Mike Heithaus also serves as the dean of the College of Arts, Sciences & Education at FIU. He currently conducts research using cutting-edge technology, including cameras worn by animals, to unravel the lives of hard-to-study marine creatures from whales and dolphins to sharks, seals and turtles. His lab’s work in Shark Bay, Australia is the most detailed study of the ecological role of sharks in the world and has been used as the underpinning for affecting positive policy changes in shark conservation initiated by several prominent Non-Governmental Organizations. He also serves as a member of the science advisory committee for Pew Environment’s International Shark Campaign and was one of the lead researchers for Global FinPrint.  

Yannis Papastamatiou
Assistant Professor, Marine Sciences Program
FIU Institute of Environment
With close to 90 research publications, Papastamatiou is one of the world’s leading shark behavioral ecologists. Papastamatiou’s use of new tag technologies on species ranging from pelagic oceanic whitetips to home-ranging reef sharks has advanced the field of predator ecology and led to evidence-based marine protected area zoning. Most recently, he discovered that some sharks form long-term social bonds. A native of London, Papastamatiou has conducted research in California, Florida, Hawaii, South Africa and throughout the Mediterranean and Northern Pacific Ocean. He earned a Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Papastamatiou is fluent in Greek.

Diego Cardeñosa
Distinguished Postdoctoral Scholar
FIU Institute of Environment
Cardeñosa uses DNA detective work to uncover the mysteries of the global shark fin trade. He’s led groundbreaking research to trace fins back to their source. With funding from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Cardeñosa also created a portable, easy-to-use DNA testing toolkit that gives customs officials and inspection personnel the power to identify illegal species on-site and have the proof to prosecute crimes. The tool is being used in Hong Kong and Peru with great success. Cardeñosa is fluent in Spanish.

Laura García Barcia 
Ph.D. candidate in the Predator Ecology & Conservation Lab
FIU Institute of Environment
García Barcia is environmental biologist particularly interested in marine wildlife conservation. Her current research focuses on two main topics: the shark fin trade and the impacts of heavy metal pollution on coastal shark species. Through the use of genetics and toxicology, she is looking to identifying where shark fins sold in Hong Kong come from — and whether shark fin soup is a safe product to consume for humans. The ultimate goal of Laura’s research is to inform conservation measures that help improve the status of shark populations. 

Erin Spencer
Ph.D. candidate in the Predator Ecology & Conservation Lab
FIU Institute of Environment
Spencer is a marine ecologist and National Geographic Explorer. She studies the movement of great hammerhead sharks and their prey using biologgers that track speed, acceleration, depth, and more. Prior to starting her Ph.D. at FIU, she received her master's from UNC - Chapel Hill where she studied seafood mislabeling and recreational red snapper fisheries. She is also an avid science writer and speaker with a focus on student audiences, and has a children's book on coral reefs being published in 2022. 

Mark Bond
Research Assistant Professor
FIU Institute of Environment 
Bond’s research focuses on improving the understanding of the ecology of endangered marine wildlife, and the design and implementation of tools and management strategies, to conserve and recover species. His work is a mix of applied field research and international policy work. Current field projects aim to improve the conservation of oceanic whitetip sharks, smalltooth sawfish and great hammerheads sharks.

Jeremy Kiszka, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences
FIU Institute of Environment 
Kiszka’s research lies broadly in the ecology, behavior and conservation of large marine vertebrates, including whales and dolphins, sea turtles and sharks. He is interested in understanding how changes in their abundance and behavior, as well as fisheries and human activities, may affect the structure and function of their ecosystems. Kiszka conducts research in the western Indian Ocean, South Pacific and the Caribbean. He is fluent in French.