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Arts, Sciences & Education dean named Explorers Club fellow

Arts, Sciences & Education dean named Explorers Club fellow

July 16, 2020 at 9:58am

Mike Heithaus has traveled the world to unravel the mysteries of sharks and other difficult-to-study marine animals. For his contributions to scientific knowledge, exploration, discovery and science communications, he has been named an Explorers Club fellow.
Well-known internationally through his research on large sharks, sea turtles and dolphins, Heithaus also serves as dean of FIU’s College of Arts, Sciences & Education.
The Explorers Club is an international professional society known for long-held exacting standards for membership and a strict vetting process. It promotes and supports the scientific exploration of land, sea, air and space by sponsoring research and education in the natural, geographic and biological sciences, cultural documentation, and humanitarian support and outreach. Members have included men and women who were first to the North Pole, first to the South Pole, first to the summit of Mount Everest, first to the deepest point in the ocean, and first to the surface of the moon. Heithaus received his formal invitation this spring.

Renowned oceanographer and Explorers Club member Sylvia Earle wrote in support of Heithaus’ nomination, emphasizing his use of cutting-edge technologies including drones and animal-borne cameras to study dolphins, seals, sharks, turtles and whales. In her reference letter, she also noted his long-term research in Shark Bay, Australia.
For more than 20 years, Heithaus has conducted one of the world’s most in-depth studies on sharks — answering critical questions about how sharks live and function, as well as how they help maintain healthy populations of other animals and even ocean plants. These findings have helped inform conservation priorities and strategies worldwide.
“In the best traditions of the Explorers Club, Dean Heithaus has clearly evidenced his commitment to the furtherance of exploration, discovery and science. He is an ardent defender of the natural world and is dedicated to sharing his research and exploration with the rest of the world,” said Mireya Mayor, director of the College of Arts, Sciences & Education’s Exploration and Science Communications and Explorers Club fellow. “I know he will bring an abundance of energy — as well as a wealth of firsthand experience as a scientist-explorer — to the Explorers Club.”
To be named an Explorers Club Fellow, scientists must have a proven record of contributing scientific findings through fieldwork or explorations. Throughout his career, Heithaus has authored or co-authored more than 175 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters and co-edited four books on the biology of sharks and their relatives. He is also one of the lead researchers for Global Finprint, an international project supported by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation that is providing desperately needed information to protect sharks and rays along the world’s coral reefs and help rebuild populations that are in trouble.