SRI Staff and Researchers


Jennifer V. Schmidt, Ph.D., Director of Science and Research

Jennifer is a geneticist and molecular biologist, with an interest in conservation genetics and the use of genetic tools to characterize wild populations.

In 2001 she partnered with the SRI to use genetics to understand the migration and reproduction of whale sharks. Her global whale shark genetic study includes animals from 20 different countries, has more than 50 international collaborators, and has taken her to field sites in places like Mexico, Djibouti and the Philippines. A 2009 publication describing this work is available (on our website at:

In 2009, Jennifer collaborated with Dr. Shoou-Jeng Joung of the National Taiwan Ocean University to determine paternity of 29 embryonic pups of different gestational ages which were taken from the only pregnant whale shark ever scientifically examined. Their 2011 paper describing this work, with predictions for whale shark mating strategies, is available (on our website at:

She has presented her work at International Whale Shark Conferences since 2005, and at Sharks International, and in 2016 she served as chair of the Scientific Program Committee for the 4th International Whale Shark conference in Doha, Qatar. She is on the Gujarat (India) Whale Shark Advisory Committee and advises on the genetic analysis of the Gujarati whale sharks. She is a member of the Explorer’s Club, and with Marie Levine she participated in a 2008 Explorer’s Club flag expedition to document the whale sharks of Donsol, Philippines. Jennifer recently led an Explorer’s Club flag expedition to study the juvenile whale sharks of the Gulf of Tadjoura.

In 2005 Jennifer became Director of Genetic Studies for the Shark Research Institute, and since 2016 has served as our Director of Science & Research. She received her Ph.D. from Northwestern University in Chicago, and did postdoctoral work at Princeton University.

Contact Jennifer by clicking here,