Dr. Neil Hammerschlag is a marine ecologist and Research Associate Professor at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science and Abess Center for Ecosystem Science & Policy. He also serves as Director of the Shark Research & Conservation Program at the University of Miami.
Neil’s research centers broadly on the behavioral ecology, conservation biology, and movement ecology of marine predators, particularly sharks. His current research has three core themes: (1) understanding the ecological and evolutionary effects of sharks; (2) determining the biological drivers and conservation consequences of shark movement patterns; and (3) examining how urbanization affects the behavior and health of coastal sharks. He has projects currently underway in Florida, Bahamas, and South Africa.
In this photo, Dr. Neil Hammerschlag attaches a special camera to a free-swimming tiger shark. Photo by Brian Skerry, Source National Geographic
Neil’s work is highly collaborative and employs a variety of low- and high-tech tools including visual surveys, stable isotope analysis, biotelemetry, ultrasonography, diet analysis, underwater video, triglyceride assays and blood hormone analysis. Neil has conducted research on a wide variety of shark species, including White (Carcharodon carcharias), Tiger (Galeocerdo cuvier), Great Hammerhead (Sphyrna mokarran), Bull (Carcharhinus leucas), Nurse (Ginglymostoma cirratum), and Blacktip (Carcharhinus limbatus). He continues to publish his research in scientific journals including Science, Ecology, Trends in Ecology & Evolution, Functional Ecology and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
In addition to his scientific research, Neil is dedicated to community outreach and public education. In 2010, Neil developed the Shark Research and Conservation Program (SRC) as a community outreach platform to provide high school students as well as public citizens with hands-on experiences in marine biology. Deeply committed to promoting STEM education and marine conservation, his team is joined by over 1000 students from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds each year on shark tagging expeditions. Neil has also developed broader impact online outreach tools, including webinars, curricula, videos, blogs, twitter teach-ins, and social media, to ensure that students from around the world have access to engaging scientific experiences.
Neil’s research has been publicized widely in the media, including features on Discovery Channel, National Geographic, NBC’s Today Show, CNN, and ABC’s Good Morning America – to name a few. In print and online, his work has been featured in the Washington Post, Miami Herald, LA Times, New York Post, NPR News, Science Daily, and various fishing magazines. He has assisted in the development of several shark specials for BBC, National Geographic Shark Fest, and Discovery Shark Week. His lab has even found an audience in diverse publications like Forbes and Oprah Magazine.
Neil joined the University of Miami (UM) first as a PhD student in 2004, founding the beginnings of SRC (then called the South Florida Student Shark Program) in 2005. Before completing his PhD, he worked as a Research Assistant for the Pew Institute for Ocean Science. In his current role as a Professor and Instructor at the University of Miami, Neil teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in marine conservation and science communication, including the Applied Science Visual Lab, and Marine Conservation Biology: An Ecosystem-Based Paradigm. His passion for teaching and communicating science has led him to speak at conferences and events around the world, including TEDx.
Neil received a B.S. in Ecology from the University of Toronto, Canada, in 2002, and his M.S. in Marine Biology from Nova Southeastern University in Florida, in 2004. He completed his Ph.D. in Marine Biology & Fisheries from the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami in 2009.
An accomplished underwater photographer, his photographs have been featured in numerous media outlets. Neil is also a regular blogger for National Geographic’s Ocean Views.
Neil loves hockey and is a die-hard Pearl Jam fan, and has seen them in concert over 40 times and counting. His favorite color is orange.
“There is nothing more satisfying than helping to create positive change, whether it is through science or inspiring the next generation of ocean ambassadors.”