What is your connection to the Shark Lab?

Dr. Gruber and Dr. Mary Ashley were my co-advisors for my Ph.D. that I received from the University of Illinois at Chicago. I started at the Shark Lab in the summer of 1996. I was one of the PIs in the summers of 1996-1999. I have been collaborating with Dr. Gruber since 1996.


Tell us a story about Doc?

What has always amazed me about Doc is his energy. He goes out with us “kids” and is always as excited as anyone else. He is truly one of the most passionate people I have ever met.


Doc quotes

“As far as lightning interacting with tissue, it’s a bad thing.”

“It’s raining. I’m tired, and it’s stupid.”

“’It’s raining. I’m tired, and it’s stupid.’ I never said that.”

“Feel this soft one. It’s like one of those that’s, you know, soft.”

“That’s Mickey Mouse to the nth power.”

When asked what bread tastes like “Tastes like bread.”

Marah: Doc, have you seen this movie?”

Doc: “What is it?”

Marah: “Dazed and Confused.”

Doc: “That’s me all the time. I don’t have to see it.”


Dates unknown:

“Every bit was cleaned. I saw them using toothbrushes. I like that.”

“As common as hair on a mammal.”

“Why is he smiling when he screwed up. No, really, why?”

“I went into his office, and he laughed and kicked me out. He’s not laughing now.”

“That’s not ‘dirty’ dirty, it’s just got sand and seaweed in it.”

“They left that one discharged a long time for some crazy reason.”

“Are we blowing each other up?”

“$500 per day? That doesn’t even pay for Tim’s salary!” (in response to what the BBC would be willing to pay on a daily basis)-Tim was surprised that he made so much .

“That stuff is Mickey Mouse. You may as well understand that” (regarding liquid tape)

“No, don’t try. We really need to do it.” (which is very similar to the Yoda quote, “Do or do not. There is no try”)

“I don’t think they know what they are doing.”

“ Does it make you drowsy? Don’t read that! It will make you drowsy.” (seasickness medication instructions”


“A hot hot hottie and a hot hot hot”

“Look at that little yellow bastard.” (about a baby lemon shark)

“I was wrong once. I think it was 1949.”

“Dramamine is a joke.”

“We have more than we need because we don’t need any.”

“Come right back. Well, you know, fiddle around and come right back.”

“I love giving instructions.”

“I told someone to specifically keep these on charge.”

I’ve got to tell somebody to do something.”

“We’re going to sit here until we catch one of these pale yellow bastards.”

“I can’t believe we only have one dip net. That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.” (when he found out we only had one)

“It’s so great to be old. You get to rest.”

“What he is telling me is the connections are Mickey Mouse.”


Tell us a story about the Shark Lab?

I don’t think I have any that are appropriate for a book.

As promised, here are some good Doc quotes and a good story about PIT tag:

I have many stories to tell, but most of them would embarrass someone else (and I don’t want to throw anyone under the bus). Instead, I will throw myself under the bus:

I forgot what year it was, maybe 1997, but we had a very rough PIT tag. If memory serves, it rained nearly every day, and it seemed like everything was breaking down. One morning, we returned from a particularly grueling night of nonstop rain. At breakfast, no one was really speaking. We were all just looking into our cereal bowls like zombies. I decided it would be a good idea to rub some jelly on my nipples. I don’t recall saying anything. I just picked up the jelly and put it on my nipples. It didn’t stop there of course: peanut butter, nutella, butter, really every available breakfast spread made it’s way on to my nipples. I think most people found it funny, but there were one or two that were creeped out. A picture exists somewhere, but I don’t have a copy.


How did meeting Doc and working at the Shark Lab change your life?

When I was trying to find a project at UIC, my advisor Dr. Ashley gave me the freedom to try to find a project doing shark population genetics. I emailed several researchers to inquire about potential collaborations. One of the professors I contacted, Sanford Moss, suggested I contact Dr. Gruber. I explained my situation, and luckily for me, he and his crew had just done the first year of PIT tagging (1995) and was looking for a geneticist. He invited Dr. Ashley and I down to the Shark Lab  for a visit. We were only there for two or three days, but I was hooked (pun intended). We caught a subadult lemon shark (my first lemon shark!)–it had such an impact, I still remember that shark’s PIT tag (C0142).

How did it change my life? I wouldn’t be where I am today without Dr. Gruber and the Shark Lab.