Dr. Heather Bracken-Grissom

Name:  Heather Bracken-Grissom
Hometown:   Foster City, CA

Current Job Title:  Assistant Professor 

Work Location:  North Miami, FL

Job Description:  I am a marine biologist that uses genetic technique to study biodiversity and evolution. 

Company, Academic Institution, Government Agency, or non-profit affiliation: I am a marine biologist at FIU (Florida International University) that uses genetic technique to study biodiversity and evolution. 

Highest Degree Level Achieved: POST DOC

Highest Degree Focus of Study:  Evolutionary Biology

What do you love most about your career?   I love exploring the deep sea and marine caves and studying the amazing organisms that live in these environments. I also love being a teacher and mentor to my undergraduate, PhD and Postdoctoral students.

What inspired you to pursue a career in marine science or STEM related field? My 8th grade Marine Biology class when I dissected a sea cucumber. 

Describe one of the most exciting moments you’ve experienced in your work: The discovery of new species and exploring the abyssal ocean plains with an ROV at ~6000 feet. 

Describe the biggest challenge (or challenges) that you’ve faced and how did you overcome it to achieve your goals? We face a lot of rejection in science, publications are rejected, grants are rejected, and job applications (a lot!) are rejected. With perseverance, motivation and a positive attitude all of these can be overcome. 

Who is your most influential mentor and how did they help you get to where you are today?  In academia, I could have not succeeded without my PhD and postdoc advisors, Darryl Felder and Keith Crandall. They were (and continue to be) monumental in my development as a person and scientist. 

How do you feel you are making a positive difference in the world?  I feel as though I am inspiring young minds everyday in the classroom and laboratory. This is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a professor and mentor.