Shedd Aquarium Welcomes New Scientist to Conservation Research Team

Dr. Steven Kessel set to oversee marine conservation research projects, study Caribbean shark species

Shedd Aquarium is excited to welcome Steven Kessel, Ph.D. as the the newest addition to the Daniel P. Haerther Center for Conservation and Research. As Shedd Aquarium’s Director of Marine Research, Kessel will oversee a suite of marine conservation research projects aimed at protecting commercially important Caribbean species, such as endangered Nassau grouper and threatened queen conch.

“We are elated to have another accomplished and passionate scientist join Shedd’s conservation research team to help expand our commitment to understanding and protecting marine ecosystems,” said Dr. Chuck Knapp, vice president of conservation research at Shedd Aquarium. “Steve has worked extensively with a wide variety of species and has a well-established reputation as a conservation scientist. His research complements the existing conservation portfolio at Shedd, which is intended to advance management and protect imperiled aquatic species across the globe.”

In addition to overseeing Shedd’s existing conservation research projects in The Bahamas, Kessel will also launch his own original research project to better understand Caribbean region shark species and how to protect them from further decline. Previously, Kessel has led and assisted with research projects studying lemon sharks, Red Sea sharks and manta rays, and has aided in the development of conservation management programs for various species.

“I’m thrilled to get started with Shedd’s existing marine conservation research projects, in addition to developing my own research focuses,” said Kessel. “The Caribbean region is so ecologically fascinating and unique, I look forward to contributing to the growing international dialogue on how we can conserve and protect this vulnerable area and its biodiversity.”

Kessel has a Ph.D. in marine ecology and biology from Cardiff University, UK. Following the completion of his degree in 2009, he spent two years at Cardiff as a postdoctoral fellow, acting as the principal investigator for the Jupiter Large Coastal Shark Species Study, which investigated the biology and ecology of large coastal shark species residing off the U.S. eastern seaboard. Since then, Kessel worked for the University of Windsor Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research as the principal investigator of the Lancaster Sound Arctic component of the Ocean Tracking Network.  Beyond marine environments and species, at his last position, Kessel studied the movements and migrations of lake sturgeon in the Great Lakes with Michigan State University.

Shedd’s Daniel P. Haerther Center for Conservation and Research focuses on local and global field research, on-site research, and conservation awareness and action. The center is committed to creating and supporting strong programs that build connections between our animals and their counterparts in the wild. Shedd’s conservation research over the years includes more than two decades of studies on Bahamian rock iguanas, one of the world’s most critically endangered lizards, as well as studies of queen conch in the Bahamas, endangered arapaima in Guyana, migratory fish in the Great Lakes, endangered Nassau grouper in The Bahamas, endangered species and rusty crayfish in the Great Lakes region and seahorses in Southeast Asia.

VISUAL NOTE: Visit the following link to download a high-resolution image of Kessel:
Photo Credit: © Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez 

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