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Baruch College Professor, Dr. David Gruber Awarded Prestigious Radcliffe Institute Fellowship

Program is considered one of the most competitive of its kind in the world


Dr. David Gruber (left) in a Deep Rover submarine off the coast of Brazil.

Dr. David Gruber (left) in a Deep Rover submarine off the coast of Brazil.

Photo credit: Alucia Productions


New York, NY May 11, 2017 Dr. David Gruber, professor of biology and environmental science at the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences, has been awarded a fellowship to the prestigious Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study at Harvard University.

With an acceptance rate of only 4 percent each year, this highly coveted program is considered one of the most competitive of its kind in the world, with only 50 leading artists and scholars selected. The fellowships advance Radcliffe Institute’s mission of “creating and sharing transformative ideas across the arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences.”

“It is an honor to represent Baruch College and partake in this unique interdisciplinary fellowship opportunity to explore the numerous connections of humans to marine creatures in our oceans," said Dr. Gruber, whose research focuses on marine biology, photosynthesis, genomics and biofluorescence/bioluminescence and coral reefs.

Currently, he employs remote operated vehicles and extended-range SCUBA to reach deep-water reefs and to more closely examine marine creatures. In his previous explorations of studying biofluorescent coral, Gruber’s research led to the startling discoveries such as the first bioflourescent sea turtle, over 200 species of illuminating sea animals, and a novel family of fluorescent proteins from marine eels. Several of the compounds Gruber’s team have found are currently being deployed as tools to uncover new cancer drugs and to understand the human brain.

Gruber added, “There is a whole world on a living reef, and it is elaborate and bustling like a busy city beneath the waves, just waiting to be explored.”


An International Recognized Expert and Pioneering Researcher

Besides teaching in the Department of Natural Sciences, Dr. Gruber works with other institutions to advance his research. He is a research associate for the American Museum of Natural History, adjunct associate fellow for the John B. Pierce Laboratory/Yale School of Medicine and emerging explorer for the National Geographic Society. Previously, he was a former tropical forester for the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

Committed to communicating science to the general public, Gruber serves as a scientific advisor and producer for WNYC Studio 360's "Science and Creativity" series, and his writings have appeared in numerous publications, including The New Yorker and Nature Medicine. His TED talk, Glow-in-the-dark sharks and other stunning sea creatures, has over 1.8 million views.

His recent research designing a shark-eye camera has received international media attention. See the videos and stories in National Geographic, Newsweek, and Science Daily. Gruber swam with sharks around the world for three-hour BBC documentary “Shark” (2016) as well as the PBS NOVA documentary “Creatures of Light” (2016) and Discovery Channel’s “Alien Sharks” (2016).

Gruber completed a PhD in biological oceanography from the Rutgers University Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences and a post-doc in molecular psychiatry at Brown University's Division of Biology and Medicine. He holds master's degrees in coastal environmental management from Duke University and in journalism from Columbia University.

At Radcliffe, David will be undertaking a book-length project on the history of jellyfish and other gelatinous marine life. He will also be working with the Harvard Microbiotics Laboratory to develop soft robotic devices for undersea exploration and research.

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