David Gruber

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David Gruber
Paterson, New Jersey, US
CitizenshipUnited States
Alma materRutgers University (PhD)
Columbia University (MS)
Duke University (MEM)
University of Rhode Island (BS)
AwardsLagrange Prize
Scientific career
FieldsMarine Biology
InstitutionsBaruch College
Harvard University
American Museum of Natural History

David Gruber is an American marine biologist,[1] a Presidential Professor of Biology and Environmental Sciences at Baruch College, City University of New York,[2] and a National Geographic Explorer.[3]

Early life[edit]

Gruber was born in Paterson, New Jersey, and received his B.S. at the University of Rhode Island, an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University, a Master of Environmental Management from Duke University and a Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography at Rutgers University Institute for Marine and Coastal Sciences. He completed a post-doctoral position in Molecular Psychiatry at Brown University. David was a 2017–2018 Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University,[4] and is a current Adjunct Fellow at the John B. Pierce Laboratory,[5] affiliated with the Yale School of Medicine.


The first observation of biofluorescence in a marine tetrapod

Gruber and collaborators reported discoveries of more than 180 new fluorescent fish species in 2014,[6] as reported in The New York Times's article, "Fluorescence is Widespread in Fish, Study Finds."[7] In 2015, he observed fluorescence in Hawksbill sea turtles in the Solomon Islands,[8] marking the first time that scientists had observed fluorescence in a marine reptile.[9] Field video of this discovery was featured on National Geographic.[10] Also in 2015, Gruber gave a TED Talk on fluorescence in sea creatures at Mission Blue II which has been viewed over 2.3 million times.[11] In 2020, this discovery was listed by National Geographic as a “top 20 scientific discoveries of the decade” for “Seeing animals’ unexpected sides.” [12]

Gruber and collaborators again had video featured on the National Geographic website[13] in 2016 after engineering a "shark-eye" camera,[14] which for the first time allowed scientists to view sharks as they see each other. From 2017-2018, Gruber used his time as a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study in order to pursue an in-depth study of jellyfish on topics ranging from their fluorescence, to their connection to humans and how they are effected by climate change.[15] Gruber would use this research into jellyfish in order to act as an educator on a TED-ed animation.[16] In 2018, Gruber promoted marine biology for National Geographic Kids' series "Best Job Ever."[17]

In 2019, Gruber was part of the team responsible for discovering that bromo-tryptophan-kynurenines make sharks fluorescent,[18] and this work was featured in The New York Times,[19] National Geographic,[20] Science Magazine,[21] on PBS[22] and on CNN.[23] That same year, Gruber and team were again featured in an article in National Geographic[24] for their discovery of flashlight fish schooling at night using their bioluminescent organs, which opened up the possibility that schooling fish may inhabit even the deep sea,[25] and Gruber led the first study to apply advanced deep machine learning techniques to better detect and classify Sperm Whale bioacoustics.[26] Gruber currently leads Project CETI, an Audacious project to understand Sperm Whale communication.

Delicate exploration/soft robotics[edit]

Since 2015, Gruber has worked in collaboration with the Harvard MicroRobotics Laboratory in the development of several gentle robotic devices that allow marine researchers to capture and analyze jellyfish and other delicate sea creatures without causing harm. Working with Robert Wood, the director of the MicroRobotics Laboratory, they have developed Squishy Robot Fingers,[27][28] the Origami Robot,[29][30][31] teleoperated soft robotic arms for submarines,[32][33] and an ultra-gentle robot with soft fingers.[34][35][36][37]

The work of the "Squishy Finger/Soft Robotics for Delicate Deep-sea Marine Biological Interactions Team" was highlighted in the American Museum of Natural History exhibit, Unseen Oceans.[38][39]

Awards and honors[edit]

Art collaborations[edit]


  • Pieribone, Vincent & Gruber, David F. (2006). Aglow in the Dark: Revolutionary Science of Biofluorescence. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-01921-0.


  1. ^ Marine Biologist: David Gruber | Best Job Ever, retrieved 2019-10-28
  2. ^ "David Gruber - The Department of Natural Sciences - Weissman School of Arts and Sciences - Baruch College". www.baruch.cuny.edu. Retrieved 2019-10-28.
  3. ^ Society, National Geographic. "Learn more about David F. Gruber". www.nationalgeographic.org. Retrieved 2019-10-28.
  4. ^ "David Gruber - Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Harvard university Fellow". www.radcliffe.harvard.edu. Retrieved 2020-01-17.
  5. ^ "The John B. Pierce Laboratory » Adjunct Faculty".
  6. ^ John S. Sparks; Robert C. Schelly; W. Leo Smith; Matthew P. Davis; Dan Tchernov; Vincent A. Pieribone; David F. Gruber (January 8, 2014). "The Covert World of Fish Biofluorescence: A Phylogenetically Widespread and Phenotypically Variable Phenomenon". PLOS ONE. 9 (1): e83259. Bibcode:2014PLoSO...983259S. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083259. PMC 3885428. PMID 24421880.
  7. ^ James Gorman (January 8, 2014). "Fluorescence Is Widespread in Fish, Study Finds". The New York Times.
  8. ^ David F. Gruber; John S. Sparks (December 7, 2015). "First observation of fluorescence in marine turtles". American Museum Novitates. American Museum of Natural History Research Library (3845). hdl:2246/6626.
  9. ^ Imam, Jareen. "Scientist discover their first biofluorescent turtle". CNN. Retrieved 2019-10-28.
  10. ^ Jane J. Lee (September 28, 2015). "Exclusive Video:First "Glowing" Sea Turtle Found". National Geographic.
  11. ^ David Gruber. "Glow-in-the-dark sharks and other stunning sea creatures". ted.com. Retrieved 2020-01-17.
  12. ^ Michael Greshko (April 25, 2016). "These are the top 20 scientific discoveries of the decade". National Geographic.
  13. ^ Brian Clark Howard (April 25, 2016). "Through a Shark's Eyes: See How They Glow in the Deep". National Geographic.
  14. ^ David F. Gruber (April 25, 2016). "Biofluorescence in Catsharks (Scyliorhinidae): Fundamental Description and Relevance for Elasmobranch Visual Ecology". Scientific Reports. Springer Nature Limited. 6 (6): 24751. Bibcode:2016NatSR...624751G. doi:10.1038/srep24751. PMC 4843165. PMID 27109385.
  15. ^ Deborah Halber (March 30, 2018). "Radcliffe's 'jellyfish guy' follows the light". The Harvard Gazette.
  16. ^ David Gruber. "Jellyfish predate dinosaurs. How have they survived so long?". www.ed.ted.com. Retrieved 2020-01-17.
  17. ^ National Geographic Kids. "Marine Biologist David Gruber - Best Job Ever". youtube.com. Retrieved 2020-01-17.
  18. ^ Hyun Bong Park; Yick Chong Lam; Jean P. Gaffney; Vincent Pieribone; David F. Gruber (September 27, 2019). "Bright Green Biofluorescence in Sharks Derives from Bromo-Kynurenine Metabolism". iScience. 19: 1291–1336. Bibcode:2019iSci...19.1291P. doi:10.1016/j.isci.2019.07.019. PMC 6831821. PMID 31402257.
  19. ^ JoAnna Klein (August 8, 2019). "How Sharks Glow to Each Other Deep in the Ocean". The New York Times.
  20. ^ "These sharks glow underwater—thanks to tiny 'lightsabers'". National Geographic. August 8, 2019.
  21. ^ Elizabeth Pennisi (August 8, 2019). "This shark glows using a process previously unknown to science". Science. AAAS (124).
  22. ^ Katherine J. Wu (August 8, 2019). "Super-shy catsharks have a weird way of lighting up". PBS.
  23. ^ Ashley Strickland (August 8, 2009). "These sharks glow bright green in the dark". CNN.
  24. ^ Brian Clark Howard (August 14, 2019). "We Finally Know Why Flashlight Fish Glow". National Geographic.
  25. ^ Gruber, David F.; Phillips, Brennan T.; O'Brien, Rory; Boominathan, Vivek; Veeraraghavan, Ashok; Vasan, Ganesh; O'Brien, Peter; Pieribone, Vincent A.; Sparks, John S. (August 14, 2019). "Bioluminescent flashes drive nighttime schooling behavior and synchronized swimming dynamics in flashlight fish". PLOS ONE. 14 (8): e0219852. Bibcode:2019PLoSO..1419852G. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0219852. PMC 6693688. PMID 31412054.
  26. ^ Bermant, Peter C.; Bronstein, Michael M.; Wood, Robert J.; Gero, Shane & Gruber, David (August 29, 2019). "Deep Machine Learning Techniques for the Detection and Classification of Sperm Whale Bioacoustics". Scientific Reports. Springer Nature (9).
  27. ^ "'Squishy Finger' Soft Robot Hands Allow Sampling of Delicate Corals". National Geographic News. 2016-01-20. Retrieved 2019-10-28.
  28. ^ Kevin C. Galloway; Kaitlyn P. Becker; Brennan Phillips; Jordan Kirby; Stephen Licht; Dan Tchernov; Robert J. Wood; David F. Gruber (March 17, 2016). "Soft Robotic Grippers for Biological Sampling on Deep Reefs". Soft Robotics. 3 (1): 23–33. doi:10.1089/soro.2015.0019. PMC 4997628. PMID 27625917.
  29. ^ "New Origami Robot Handles Sea Creatures With a Softer Touch". National Geographic. 2018-07-18. Retrieved 2019-10-28.
  30. ^ Teoh, Zhi Ern; Phillips, Brennan T.; Becker, Kaitlyn P.; Whittredge, Griffin; Weaver, James C.; Hoberman, Chuck; Gruber, David F.; Wood, Robert J. (July 18, 2018). "Rotary-actuated folding polyhedrons for midwater investigation of delicate marine organisms". Science Robotics. 3 (20): eaat5276. doi:10.1126/scirobotics.aat5276. PMID 33141728.
  31. ^ Klein, JoAnna (July 18, 2018). "Don't Squish the Jellyfish. Capture It With a Folding Robotic Claw". The New York Times.
  32. ^ "No more Iron Man: submarines now have soft, robotic arms". Wyss Institute. 2018-10-03. Retrieved 2019-10-28.
  33. ^ Phillips, Brennan T.; Becker, Kaitlyn P.; Kurumaya, Shunichi; Galloway, Kevin C.; Whittredge, Griffin; Vogt, Daniel M.; Teeple, Clark B.; Rosen, Michelle H.; Pieribone, Vincent A.; Gruber, David F.; Wood, Robert J. (October 3, 2018). "A Dexterous, Glove-Based Teleoperable Low-Power Soft Robotic Arm for Delicate Deep-Sea Biological Exploration". Scientific Reports. 8 (1): 14779. Bibcode:2018NatSR...814779P. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-33138-y. PMC 6170437. PMID 30283051.
  34. ^ Sheikh, Knvul (2019-08-29). "A Robot With Noodle-like Fingers Helps Handle Soft Jellyfish". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-10-28.
  35. ^ Sinatra, Nina R.; Teeple, Clark B.; Vogt, Daniel M.; Parker, Kevin Kit; Gruber, David F.; Wood, Robert J. (August 28, 2019). "Ultragentle manipulation of delicate structures using a soft robotic gripper". Science Robotics. 4 (33): eaax5425. doi:10.1126/scirobotics.aax5425. PMID 33137785.
  36. ^ "Harvard researchers say they've developed a gripping tool that will keep delicate jellyfish from going splat". The Boston Globe.
  37. ^ "Soft Robot Gives Jellyfish a Hug". Science Friday. 2018-08-30. Retrieved 2019-11-01.
  38. ^ James Gorman (March 22, 2018). "The Ruthless Phronima, and Other Hidden Wonders of the Sea". The New York Times.
  39. ^ AMNH Staff. "Unseen Oceans Exhibit Press Release". AMNH.
  40. ^ "Iain D. Couzin and David Gruber win the Lagrange Prize -- CRT Foundation 2019".
  41. ^ Explorers Club Staff. "Explorers Club Annual Dinner to Focus on Oceans as Earth's Last Frontier for Exploration".
  42. ^ "David Gruber, 2014 Emerging Explorer". National Geographic.
  43. ^ Nasar, Sylvia; Gruber, David (2006-08-28). "The Poincaré Clash". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2019-10-28.
  44. ^ "The Process Behind Joan Jonas' New Oceanic Work". Flash Art. June 17, 2019.
  45. ^ Angela M.H. Schuster. "A Meeting of the Minds: pioneering marine biologist David Gruber and provocative performance artist Joan Jonas discuss their recent collaboration, which highlights the fragile beauty of our oceans" (PDF). The Explorers Journal.
  46. ^ Janaina Tschäpe & David Gruber. "Fictionary of Corals and Jellies". www.tba21.org. TBA21 Journals.

External links[edit]