An open letter to future shark scientists…

(guest blogger Jasmin Graham, writes to anyone old or young in your lives who may be interested in shark science)

Photo by Magda Ehlers on

Dear Future Shark Scientist,

Firstly, I’d like to introduce myself: my name is Jasmin Graham and I am a shark scientist. If you’re reading this you’ve probably thought about studying sharks at some point in your life. Maybe it’s a passion you’ve deferred to pursue other interests, perhaps you’re a young person still trying to figure out what you want out of life. Maybe you have been thinking about pursuing shark science for years, or perhaps it crossed your mind just recently. You might even be reading this letter because someone you care about loves sharks and you want to support and encourage them to follow their dreams. No matter why you’re here, I hope you find the information in this letter helpful. Let’s dive in.


I’d like to start off by discussing what shark science is and what it is not. Shark science is a field of study that focuses on understanding sharks and the role they play in ecosystems. It is a highly interdisciplinary field and uses techniques from many disciplines including: biology, ecology, engineering, evolution, oceanography, geography, chemistry, physics and much more. There are many paths to shark science and whether you’re 6 or 60, you can get involved in shark science. You’re never too old or too young to get interested in sharks.

Shark science is for everyone, just for one type of person. Maybe you get terribly sea sick or you can’t swim, that’s okay, there are ways to study sharks in the lab without ever getting on a boat or stepping foot in the water. Maybe you struggle with math, that’s alright, so did I! Not only is math a challenge you can overcome, but there are many resources scientists use that can help us navigate around our weaknesses. Maybe you haven’t gotten good grades in school, that’s okay too!

Science is about asking questions and figuring out ways to solve them. Some people are bad test takers, but excellent researchers. Don’t be disheartened if your grades aren’t stellar. It doesn’t mean you’re incapable of doing science. You don’t have to be perfect to be a shark scientist; you don’t have to have a specific personality or set of skills.

“The beauty of shark science is that it is multi-faceted and there is something everyone can bring to the table.”

Jasmin Graham
Photo by Kelly Lacy on

So how do you get involved in shark science? If you or a loved one is currently in K-12 and is interested in shark science here are my recommendations for you, gain as much knowledge as you can by watching documentaries, searching online, reading books, taking classes, volunteering at or visiting aquariums or even attending camps and afterschool programs. You can start learning about sharks right now! If you’re in high school and starting to think about next steps, you may want to consider doing an internship at a zoo, aquarium or marine lab to get experience working with sharks or other marine animals. You can also look at jobs at a zoo or aquarium after graduation.

I would recommend you consider colleges that have degrees that interest you, whether you’re fresh out of school or looking for a career change. Sharks live in the ocean, so getting a school near the coast would be ideal, but that isn’t feasible for everyone. You can get involved in shark science and attend college far away from the ocean. Remember shark science is interdisciplinary so there are many things you can study. For instance, maybe you’re interested in chemistry. It might be good to find a college with a strong chemistry program.

Photo by Pixabay on

During college you can do internships and participate in research to learn how to apply your chemistry knowledge to marine systems and sharks. If you are in college I highly recommend taking as many relevant courses as you can find at your institution. I also recommend getting to know your professors really well and participating in internships and undergraduate research as early as possible. Once you graduate you can start looking for jobs in the field. You might consider pursuing a graduate degree also. Graduate school is where people go to get specialized training in the field. There are many graduate programs out there. If you are interested in finding a graduate program I recommend finding faculty who study sharks at different institutions and contacting them to share your research interests and see if they are taking graduate students. Whether you pursue a Master’s, PhD, both or none of the above, you can have a successful career in shark science. It’s all about what you want and at what level you want to do science. If you want to be in charge of the lab, research program or department, you might want to get a PhD.

However, if you are content to work under someone and conduct your research in a lab led by someone else, you are probably fine with Master’s degree. If you are someone who just wants to help out with others’ projects or you want to work in policy, communication or some area of shark science that isn’t research focused, you might not need to go to graduate school at all. These decisions don’t have to be made right now and they aren’t set in stone. You can always change your mind, and you can always go back to school, change jobs, change your research focus or even change institutions.


As I said before, there are many paths to shark science and all of them can be equally fulfilling.

Wherever you are in life, you can always hop onto the path of shark science.


If you love sharks and studying them is something that interests you, I hope this inspires you and gives you a sense of direction. Being a shark scientist has made a hugely positive impact on my life, so if you are considering it, I hope you take the plunge!


Jasmin Graham

Connect with Jasmin via

@Elasmo_Gal of through @MISS_Elasmo (see the wonderful YouTube video as well )

& check out the podcast episode Jasmine was on via


Check out some of @ICB_journal ‘s shark related articles

The current issue’s

Editor’s choice:

The Dental Lamina: An Essential Structure for Perpetual Tooth Regeneration in Sharks 

Gareth J FraserAriane StandingCharlie UnderwoodAlexandre P Thiery

& a throwback of


Author: suzannecrmiller

Author of Queen, Wage, The Selections on Amazon, Fly on site and soon to be Souvenir through @Inkdedingray publishing

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