URI to host first Google+ Hangout with biologists during “Shark Week,” Aug. 8

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KINGSTON, R.I. – August 2, 2013 – Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” series begins on Aug. 4, and the University of Rhode Island is taking a bite out of the action, hosting its first Google+ Hangout with some of the University’s own shark experts on Thursday, Aug. 8 from 11:30 a.m. to noon. Todd McLeish, URI Public Information Officer and author of two marine science books, will kick-off the live event by interviewing URI researchers Brad Wetherbee and Jason Ramsay, as well as former URI graduate student Anabela Maia on shark behavior and physiology. Then, McLeish will take questions from the viewing audience for the scientists.

Wetherbee’s background is in the ecology and behavior of sharks and rays, and he currently works with a team to tag and track various species of sharks in the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean. Through his research, he hopes to help protect sharks by learning more about their movements and migration patterns.

Ramsay, who completed his graduate and undergraduate degrees at URI, focuses on shark physiology, especially the mechanics and function of their jaws. As a senior, he discovered at least one kind of shark that not only used its teeth to bite and tear at its prey, but it could also flatten its biting teeth when eating shellfish. Since then, his research has helped provide more insight on how modern-day shark jaws work and how it affects their eating habits.

Maia also completed her graduate degree at URI in 2011, and went on to hold a postdoctoral position at Ghent University in Belgium before becoming a postdoctoral researcher at Tufts University. Since 2006, her focus has been on the role of sharks’ fins and their locomotion mechanics. During her time at URI as a graduate assistant, Maia found that not all shark dorsal fins work the same – some serve as stabilizers and others assist in thrusting.

The Google+ Hangout will not only explore Wetherbee, Ramsay and Maia’s current research, but will also include a Q&A session during which viewers can submit their own questions as comments directly on the University’s Google+ page at google.com/+universityofri. Viewers can also connect during the live interview via Twitter by tweeting their questions and adding the hashtag #URIshark.

Visit facebook.com/universityofri or google.com/+universityofri for updates and more information, or contact social media coordinator Shelbey Bidell with any questions about this event at sbidell@uri.edu or 401-874-5190.