Marine Fisheries Research: Gregg Poulakis

Gregg is currently involved with research on the endangered smalltooth sawfish.

B.S. Biological Sciences, State University of New York at Oswego
M.S. Marine Biology, Florida Tech
Ph.D. Oceanography, Florida Tech

I began working at the Charlotte Harbor Field Laboratory in March 1997.


What are you working on now?
I am conducting research on smalltooth sawfish and cownose rays.

How is this information beneficial?
The smalltooth sawfish is endangered, occurs today primarily in Florida, and very little research was done before populations declined. There is much to be done to keep the species on the road to recovery. Cownose rays are currently abundant, but sharks and rays in general are experiencing dramatic population declines worldwide. It is important to learn as much as we can about this species before it declines.

Was this your original career interest? Why or why not?
I was always interested in science, especially geology and biology. When I was in elementary school, I collected fossils extensively and even went on a dig. So, paleontology was my original career interest, but then my parents took me to see the ocean. Not long after that, marine science became my focus.

What is your biggest accomplishment?
I feel fortunate to be able to conduct biological research for a career.

What do you like most about your career?
When you conduct research, you learn things that no one knew before. Learning new things and sharing the information with others is fun. Sometimes the information is used to help conserve or manage the species you study and that can be very gratifying.

What do you like least about your career?
It's tough to make a living as a scientist.

What are some of your biggest challenges?
Sometimes it can be difficult to get scientists to communicate and work together.

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a career in your field?
Determine a few things that you're interested in (specific organisms or groups of them, ecology, genetics, etc.) and try to get involved with a person or group that is working on those things. Ask questions, volunteer. Find out what you're really interested in and go for it. You probably won't make much money, but it will be a wild ride.

FWC Facts:
Manatees are found throughout rivers, springs and shallow coastal waters of Florida and nearby states. They have been seen as far west as Texas and as far north as Virginia.

Learn More at AskFWC