Greetings friends! In an effort to build the Beneath the Waves Community we would like to begin a regular segment in which we interview contributing BTW scientists and filmmakers. We believe it is important that we not only help spread information on what these scientists are doing, but that you can have a chance to get to know what drives their passion for our oceans. Enjoy! 




Andy Shantz

Florida International University


Today we dive deeper with researcher and Beneath the Waves Scientific Meetings Coordinator, Andy Shantz. Andy is currently a Doctoral Student at Florida International University where he studies the interface between physiological and community ecology. He is interested in understanding how an animal’s physiology can dictate its role in the ecosystem and shape its responses to environmental conditions. His research right now focuses on understanding how nutrient pollution from things like agricultural run-off and waste water discharge impacts coral reef communities.


Q: What draws you “Beneath the Waves”?:


Curiosity really. I love the feeling of exploring, seeing new things, and being in the wilderness. On land, it’s harder and harder to get away from all of the roads, cars, and development and just experience nature. But you can go diving anywhere and feel like you’re exploring somewhere people have never been. It feels like going to a whole new world where there is no telling what you’ll see or find and to me, that’s an amazing feeling.

Q: What is your association with the film festival?:
My official title is ‘Scientific Meetings Coordinator’ – I help organize the film festivals that take place at scientific conferences. For me it’s great because this was really where we first started. One of our big goals was, and still is, trying to help scientists effectively communicate to make their research more accessible to everyone, and in this day and age digital media can be such an effective tool for that. So I not only get the opportunity to go to a lot of meetings and learn about the latest science, but also to show them how easily media can really broaden their impact and get their science to an audience far beyond the conference floor.

Q: If you could make one film regarding the oceans, what/who would be the subject?


It would be a pretty broad theme about how imperiled the oceans are right now. I think when it comes to the ocean there is an out-of-sight, out-of-mind mentality. You look out to sea and in most places it’s still pretty and blue, so a lot of people don’t realize how seriously degraded the oceans are becoming and how disastrous things could be for the whole world if we don’t fix it. But it wouldn’t be an all doom-and-gloom movie either, I think it’s really important that people understand that the oceans are vast and resilient too. If we just start acting little more responsibly, the ocean can continue to provide all of the resources that each of us enjoys and depends on now and can start to recover to ensure those resources long into the future.


Q: When not in the lab, on a boat, or doing science, where can we find you?


I love to travel so whenever my time and budget allow it, I try to get lost somewhere new in the world. But when I can’t be traveling you can usually find me out hiking, at the beach, or at a good sports bar cheering on whatever DC sports team is playing.

 If you would like to know more about Andy’s adventures and research, check out his website: