Sunday, November 27, 2011

David Shiffman: new generation of shark researcher seeks your vote

As a filmmaker, one of the reasons I write the RTSeaBlog is because through my work I have come to see that there is a tremendous amount of important research and data which is not making its way to the decision makers or the general public. This is true in the environmental and ecological field as well as in other disciplines. But I am certainly not alone in this understanding and there is a growing group of young scientists determined to change that status quo.

David Shiffman, also known as "Why Sharks Matter" at the Southern Fried Science blog, is one of a new generation of marine scientists who both relishes in research and understands the importance of communicating that research to the widest possible audience through today's various online mediums. He currently is working on his doctorate as a research assistant at the R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program of the University of Miami.

David is also currently in the running as a finalist in the program that recognizes the efforts of college students and researchers who are utilizing the world of blogging to get the message out. The program is a cash prize awarded to the person with the greatest number of votes from the public.

"[The scholarship] will provide me with $10,000 towards my dissertation research, focusing on the ecological importance of sharks to coral reefs. I'll also use the money to support our lab's citizen science program, which has taken over 1,000 high school students and teachers into the field to learn about sharks and participate in an active research program. I'll also adopt a satellite tagged shark in the name of Southern Fried Science's readers, let them name it through a contest, and post regular updates about where it is and what it's likely to be encountering."

Voting ends November 30th, and it's going to be close. David is the only ocean blogger among the finalists. It would be great if all the finalists could receive cash rewards and maybe someday, with a change in the economy or the mindset of those who don't see conservation as a critical issue, that could happen. But, for the moment, this is what we have.

I have cited David and his blog work in previous posts. I met David several years ago at the first BLUE Ocean Film Festival and can attest that he is dedicated to both sharks and the need for making people aware as to the plight of these animals and what it means to the future of the oceans as a whole. He's got my vote. How about you? You can vote for David by clicking here which will take you to the voting page (it accepts one vote each day).

Or you can cut and paste their web address:


WhySharksMatter said...

Thanks a lot!

ScienceRox said...

Another finalist, Heather Cohen, is a grad student who's research has direct benefits on human health and will help people suffering from autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. A vote for Heather Cohen is a vote for human health!

RTSea said...

Getting funding is difficult enough nowadays, than to complicate things by making it an open vote contest. I'm sure all the people involved are worthy of the $10K and then some.

My bias is towards ocean science as I see it as critical to the planet's health, humans included.

Always a difficult choice and hopefully those who do not win will succeed in getting funding elsewhere.

Best of success to Heather, David, and all the entrants!