College of the Environment and Life Sciences

Education, Experience, Excellence for the 21st Century

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Big Thinkers

Sharks: at the nexus of biology and mechanics

Without sharks, the world’s marine ecosystems would lose their balance. Populations would rapidly fluctuate and the entire marine food chain would be reshuffled. This is why CELS Professor Cheryl Wilga is so dedicated to better understanding and protecting these creatures. According to Wilga, these predators are the scavengers of the ocean. They often eat the sick and dying, and thereby keep the fish stocks healthy. They play an essential role in our oceans.

Primarily a laboratory-based scientist, Wilga keeps large sharks, often three to five feet long, in her tanks on the University of Rhode Island’s Bay Campus.  There, with URI’s open seawater system, her sharks enjoy continuously refreshed saltwater pumped directly from the Narragansett Bay. This system, in addition to other state-of-the-art technologies, allows Wilga to study the swimming and feeding mechanisms of multiple shark species.

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Think Big We Do

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