Dr. Mike Heithaus is Executive Dean of the College of Arts, Sciences & Education and Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Florida International University (FIU). A marine ecologist specializing in predator-prey interactions and the ecological importance of sharks and other large marine species, Heithaus is the principal investigator and co-principal investigator on grants totaling $28 million. His research leverages a number of cutting-edge technologies, including drones and animal-borne cameras, to unravel the mysterious lives of hard-to-study marine creatures. His work in Shark Bay Australia is the most detailed study of the ecological role of sharks in the world. Working with several prominent non-governmental organizations, it has been used as the underpinning for affecting positive policy changes.
Heithaus is an Explorers Club fellow, member of the Science Advisory Committee for Pew Environment’s Global Shark Program, serves as the associate editor of Frontiers in Marine Science, and is an inaugural member of the Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine of Florida board of directors. He also serves on the Zoo Miami Foundation Board of Directors and chairs the Education Committee.
Prior to joining FIU, 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" and hosted National Geographic Channel’s Crittercam television series. Heithaus has been involved in the production of more than 30 natural history documentaries, including many featured on National Geographic’s Shark Fest as well as Discovery's Shark Week. He has dedicated his career to bringing the excitement of scientific exploration and discovery to audiences of all ages. He received a B.A. in Biology from Oberlin College in 1995 and completed his Ph.D. at Simon Fraser University in 2001.
My research is focused on understanding how predator-prey interactions structure communities with a particular focus on the role of non-consumptive predator effects ("risk effects"). I am particularly interested in the role of upper trophic level marine predators in their communities and ecosystems, and how ongoing reductions in their populations are likely to impact marine communities. Recently, I have also begun investigating the importance of individual foraging specializations on mediating the ecological impacts of predators, particularly their role in transporting nutrients across ecosystem boundaries.