What is your connection to the Shark Lab?
I am originally from Austria, which is also where I studied biology. Very soon it became clear to me that I wanted to specialize on marine biology. I was always really interested in sharks and rays, but also in coral reef biology. So in 2002, when it came to the point that I had taken all the compulsory lectures in Vienna, and could decided on the field I wanted to specialize in, I booked myself in for two field trips: one to the Red Sea, where we studied coral cover and the other one to Bimini to volunteer in the shark lab. Both trips were great, but when I held the first lemon shark it was clear to me that I would work with sharks and rays. Its been my passion ever since. After finishing my Masters in Australia, for which I worked with shovelnose rays, I went back to Bimini and joined pit for a month.
How did meeting Doc and working at the Shark Lab change your life?
Doc was always really supportive of me and my work. He probably knows every biologist on the planet who works with sharks and rays, and he and Marie always made a point at conferences of introducing me to new people. Whenever I met him in Bimini or at conferences, he would always tell me a different anecdote of sensory biology in sharks and rays, as this is what I am specialised on. When I was still living in Vienna, I had the opportunity to work with Hans Hass for six months. He was a diving pioneer in the 1930s. Later on, Doc told me that he himself got interested in the hearing abilities of sharks after he read an account by Hans Hass that sharks are attracted to explosions caused by dynamite fishing. This made me realize that Doc himself is one of the true pioneers in shark research.