Join the Shark Research and Conservation Program in welcoming our new Director, Professor Catherine Macdonald!

Catherine Macdonald, Ph.D., research assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science, has been appointed director of the school’s Shark Research and Conservation Program. Dr. Macdonald brings over 15 years of experience in interdisciplinary ocean conservation and shark field research to the program.

“I couldn’t be more excited to be working with the amazing team at the Shark Research and Conservation Program, or to have the chance to build new opportunities for University of Miami students to learn about shark science and gain valuable field research skills,” said Macdonald.

Professor Macdonald’s expertise includes the biology and ecology of sharks, conservation policy, the human dimensions of ocean conservation, and wildlife tourism’s role and limitations as a conservation solution. She has been featured on National Geographic, CBS News, and ABC’s Good Morning America, and her research has been covered by The New York Times and The Washington Post, among others.

“Catherine brings experience and a passion for teaching students about sharks and marine ecosystems,” said Roni Avissar, dean of the Rosenstiel School. “I’m confident the program will grow and continue to flourish under her leadership.”

Catherine earned her Ph.D. from the University of Miami’s Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy, and during her time as a doctoral student served as the Shark Research and Conservation Program’s intern coordinator for four years, training students in the skills they would need in the field of shark science and to succeed in their careers. She currently leads the popular Master of Professional Science marine conservation track at the Rosenstiel School and received the Mentor of the Year Award in 2021 from the Rosenstiel School’s Student-Led Evaluations and Development committee.

Throughout her career, Catherine has been committed to making the field of marine biology a safer and more welcoming place for all. She is the co-founder of Field School, an inclusive marine research skills training program, and has collaborated with the organization Minorities in Shark Science (MISS) since it was founded to support fieldwork and scientific training opportunities for gender minorities of color.

While some of SRC’s research focus will change during the leadership transition, many of its most popular outreach programs, including opportunities for local high school students to join scientists in the field, and the FINS program, which creates opportunities for girls to join women-led teams of scientists in the field, will continue. Details on how to get involved will be shared shortly, along with updated information for interested prospective graduate students via the program’s website:, as well as on Instagram and Twitter (@sharktagging).