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Dr. Demian Chapman

Lead scientist

Demian is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at FIU. A molecular ecologist by training, he leads the Global FinPrint project and studies the Asian shark fin trade. He has published more than 90 scientific papers and appeared on BBC and the Discovery Channel. His work has led to a shark sanctuary in The Bahamas, improved shark management in Belize, and the listing of multiple shark and ray species on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), to name a few. Demian is originally from New Zealand and loves his two dogs Kassie and Charlie.

Ph.D. Marine Biology - M.S. Marine Biology - B.S. Zoology

Courses taught

 OCB 4070 - Coastal Conservation

 PCB 5025L - Molecular Biology Techniques Laboratory

 BSC 6926 - Shark & Ray Handling Workshop

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Dr. Diego Cardeñosa

Postdoctoral scientist

Diego was born in Colombia and his current research is focused on the international shark fin trade and developing new wildlife forensics tools to aid with the enforcement of international trade regulations. As an undergraduate student, he looked at the effects of habitat loss on the survival and growth rates of lemon sharks in Bimini, Bahamas. For his Masters, Diego studied the genetic population structure of the pelagic thresher shark in the Pacific Ocean. He enjoys SCUBA diving, playing sports, and a relaxed walk at the beach with his dog Blu.

Ph.D. Marine Sciences - M.S. Biological Sciences - B.S. Biology

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Kathryn Flowers

Ph.D. student

Kathryn is interested in using ray ecology and movement research to support species conservation. Under the supervision of Dr. Papastamatiou, her research investigates stingray behaviour and habitat use in response to sharks in Caribbean coral reef ecosystems. Kathryn has worked as a research assistant for Global FinPrint since 2015, both as a field scientist and as the social media manager. She collaborated with the Belize Fisheries Department to secure full protection for all ray species in their waters. Originally from Canada, Kathryn loves to travel, go snorkeling, and wear bird shirts.

M.A. Marine Conservation & Policy - B.A. Anthropology

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Cindy Gonzalez

Ph.D. student

Originally from Colombia, Cindy is a Ph.D. student under the supervision of Dr. Chapman. A Fulbright scholar, she is currently describing a new species of bonnethead shark from Belize. Her Master's work focused on the genetic population structure of bonnethead sharks from Bocas del Toro Panama, Belize, and the Western Atlantic. She is interested in using molecular ecology and social work for applied species conservation. Cindy is a scientific diver and enjoys traveling and hanging out on the beach in her spare time. 

M.S. Marine Ecology - B.S. Ecology

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Megan Kelley

Ph.D. student

Megan is originally from Virginia and her current research focuses on how marine predators affect nutrient cycling and habitat connectivity, using nurse sharks as a model organism. During her undergraduate degree at FIU, she was a research assistant in the Community Ecology Lab, and later in the Aquatic Ecology Lab. She has worked as a PADI Open Water Instructor and as a program instructor for the Eye-to-Eye Shark Program at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium.

B.S. Marine Sciences

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Jessica Quinlan

Ph.D. student

Jessica volunteered in Dr. Chapman’s Marine Molecular Ecology & Conservation Lab at Stony Brook University for the last two years of her undergraduate degree. She watched Global FinPrint videos and helped his Ph.D. students genetically identify shark species present in the shark fin trade. While an undergraduate, she also worked on a long-lining project, implemented to gain a better understanding of sharks species present off Long Island, which led to the first young of the year white shark being satellite tagged in the Atlantic Ocean. She enjoys SCUBA diving, traveling, relaxing on the beach, and hiking with her dog.

B.S. Marine Sciences

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Erin Spencer

Ph.D. student

Erin received a B.S. in Ecology from the College of William and Mary before working for several years in Washington, D.C. for National Geographic and Ocean Conservancy. As a National Geographic Explorer, she studied innovative responses to invasive species and documented her work through the Invasive Species Initiative. As a M.S. student at UNC-Chapel Hill, she studied red snapper mislabeling and management in the southeastern U.S. Now, as a PhD student under the supervision of Dr. Papastamatiou, she is interested in predator-prey interactions and shark energetics. Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Erin enjoys SCUBA diving, getting kids excited about marine science, and taking funny pictures of her cats.

M.S. Ecology - B.S. Ecology

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Khadeeja Ali

Master's student

Khadeeja is from the Maldives. She did her BSc in Marine Science at the University of the South Pacific, Fiji Islands. She is a government researcher, working for the Maldives Marine Research Institute. Coming from a small island country, her work varies from research to management and conservation of threatened and endangered marine species.  She has represented her home country at numerous regional and international platforms on conservation and management of threatened marine species and played a key role in the establishment of the Marine Turtle Task Force in the North Indian Ocean region. For her Master’s, she is interested in studying the effects of shark sanctuaries on shark populations, focusing on the shark sanctuary of the Maldives. When she is not working, she likes to occupy herself with gardening, listening to audiobooks, and conducting google-research on every possible thing she can find. 

B.S. Marine Science

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Gina Clementi

Alumna (lab manager)

Gina is interested how anthropogenic and environmental factors impact elasmobranch abundance and diversity. While completing her undergraduate degree, she studied estuarine fish assemblages in Barnegat Bay, New Jersey. During graduate school, Gina’s research focused on using baited remote underwater video surveys (BRUVS) to analyze marine predator distributions in the Caribbean and Long Island, New York. She conducted BRUVS, analyzed data, and trained citizen scientists for the Global FinPrint project. Gina’s hobbies include painting, playing soccer, and taste testing every Oreo flavor to ever exist.

M.S. Marine Sciences - B.S. Marine Science & Biology

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Maria Sabando

Alumna (undergraduate student)

Maria was an undergraduate student under the supervision of Dr. Yannis Papastamatiou studying indirect and direct dominance hierarchies between reef sharks in order to understand competitive interactions.

B.S. Marine Biology

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Dr. Yannis Papastamatiou

Lead scientist

Yannis Papastamatiou is an Assistant Professor at FIU in the Department of Biological Sciences. With over 80 research publications, Yannis is one of the world's leading shark behavioural ecologists. His work has been featured on National Geographic, BBC, and Discovery's Shark Week. Yannis' 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. Yannis enjoys exploring deep reefs and practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in his spare time.

Ph.D. Zoology - M.S. Biology - B.S. Oceanography

Courses taught

 PCB 3043 - Ecology

 PCB 4717 - Physiological & Behavioral Ecology of Marine Animals

 BSC 6926 - Shark & Ray Handling Workshop

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Candace Fields

Ph.D. student

Originally from The Bahamas, Candace is a Ph.D. student under the joint supervision of Drs. Chapman and Papastamatiou. After finishing her undergraduate degree in Pennsylvania, she spent two years at the Cape Eleuthera Institute where she was a key member on the pelagic research team. Candace’s research will focus on the population dynamics and geographic population structure of large predators. She is passionate about shark conservation and being a Bahamian advocate for the protection and importance of sharks and rays in The Bahamas.  

B.S. Neuroscience

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Laura García Barcia

Ph.D. student

Laura studied her B.Sc. in Environmental Biology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. During her senior year she transferred to FIU and studied Marine Sciences while volunteering in the Marine Community Ecology Lab. Her research focuses on the conservation biology of sharks, specifically on the level of pollutants that can be found in different shark tissues and how this varies with species, trophic level, and region of origin. She takes part in several education and outreach activities at local schools explaining the importance of protecting sharks. In her free time she enjoys snorkeling and building human towers. 

B.S. Environmental Biology

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Devanshi Kasana

Ph.D. student

Devanshi is originally from India where she conducted elasmobranch fishery and trade studies with the Oceans and Coasts Programme at World Wide Fund for Nature- India. For her research, she is investigating the role of shark meat as a driver of the shark fishery in Belize, Central America. Her interests lie in studying heavy metal accumulation and toxicity in shark tissues to inform consumption practices and the trade dynamics of shark meat. When she is not submerged in her element, Devanshi enjoys reading, sunsets and finding the perfect GIFs.

M.S. Conservation - B.S. Life Sciences

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Sarah Luongo

Ph.D. student

Sarah is originally from California where she conducted research examining the effects of temperature on the metabolic rate of the California horn shark. After graduation, she completed a course at Friday Harbor Laboratories, WA, where she investigated the additional metabolic costs fish experience when turning around in a surge zone. Sarah is now a student under Dr. Papastamatiou’s supervision and is interested in how physiology influences the behavioral ecology of marine fishes. She hopes to couple lab based respirometry and field based accelerometry to determine the energetic costs of grouper at spawning aggregations.

B.S. Marine Biology

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Sara Schoen

Ph.D. student

Sara received her B.Sc and Masters in Biology from James Madison University where she conducted research on the Limnonectes kuhlii complex, a cryptic species of Southeast Asian stream frogs. Her goal was to determine a statistical method for refining the morphometric characters to distinguish and delineate between candidate species. She is interested in using statistics to answer biological questions and aiding in conservation. Sara is co-advised by Dr. Demian Chapman and Dr. Alastair Harborne to investigate and analyze Global FinPrint data. When she’s not working on research she enjoys writing, SCUBA diving, and playing with her family pets: two cats (Sierra and Stella) and her dog (Jethro). 

M.S. Biology - B.S. Biology

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Maurits van Zinnicq Bergmann

Ph.D. student

Maurits’ primary research interests are predator-predator behavioral interactions and their impact on the dynamics and structure of marine communities. From the Netherlands, he is a principal investigator at the Bimini Sharklab and his research examines biological drivers of movement, habitat and space use of elasmobranch communities in The Bahamas, and how these are mediated by habitat characteristics. Research techniques include biotelemetry, BRUVS, stable isotope analysis and individual-based modeling. Maurits enjoys traveling as well as activities on the water and in the mountains.

M.S. Marine Biology - B.S. Marine Biology

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Dr. Judith Bakker

Alumna (postdoctoral scientist)

Judith's main research interest addresses the development and application of environmental DNA (eDNA) to shark research and conservation, linking community differences detected through eDNA with environmental and/or anthropogenic factors. Additionally, comparing community differences detected through eDNA with existing knowledge gathered by using more traditional techniques. She worked as a PADI Open Water Instructor in Panama and as a masters student she studied juvenile coral recruitment in Curaçao and the effects of habitat loss on the home ranges lemon sharks in Bimini, Bahamas. Judith is originally from the Netherlands and enjoys working out, traveling, SCUBA and free diving, and is also fascinated with marine mammals and diving physiology.

Ph.D. Marine Biology - M.S. Marine Biology - B.S. Biomedical Sciences

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Dr. Bautisse Postaire

Alumnus (postdoctoral scientist)

Bautisse is a French researcher who uses multiple approaches to study corals, sharks, hydrozoans, and gastropods. He has interests in evolutionary processes and speciation in marine ecosystems, as well as revealing cryptic biodiversity. One of his goals is to understand the origins of biodiversity hotspots in order to protect them. The basis of his research requires standard molecular biology techniques (e.g. PCR) and bioinformatics tools (e.g. R) in order to reconstruct evolutionary histories and measure population differentiation and gene flow. Although his research does not send him in the field often, he is a scientific diver who loves exploring.

Ph.D. Marine Biology - M.S. Marine Biology - B.S. Biology

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Sarah Sisco

Alumna (undergraduate student)

Sarah was an undergraduate student studying the diet and distribution of catfish in the Everglades with Dr. Yannis Papastamatiou.

B.S. Marine Biology

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