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UNF presents 2024-27 Delaney Endowed Presidential Professorship to Dr. Jim Gelsleichter

Jim Gelsleichter HeadshotThe University of North Florida has selected Dr. Jim Gelsleichter, Coastal and Marine Biology Flagship Program director and biology professor, as the recipient of the 2024-27 John A. Delaney Presidential Professorship. The professorship recognizes faculty achievements through the support of outstanding scholars, named in honor of UNF President Emeritus John A. Delaney.  

Gelsleichter is the University’s 11th presidential professor and will receive a $10,000 annual stipend for the full-term appointment of three years beginning in July.  

Gelsleichter will apply the professorship to conduct a study with the UNF Shark Biology Program to determine if exposure to per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) can impair the reproductive biology of male sharks. PFAS are an important group of water pollutants widely used as oil- and water-repellents in a broad range of commercial and household products. 

The team will examine PFAS exposure levels in males from one of the most abundant local shark species, the bonnethead Sphyrna tiburo, including samples from embryos to full-grown adults. They will also examine the direct effects of PFAS exposure on male reproduction. This will be the first study on the effects of PFAS exposure in sharks.  

Gelsleichter, a global expert in shark biology, ecology, endocrinology and toxicology, joined the UNF faculty in 2008. He has researched sharks and their relatives for more than 25 years and worked as a staff scientist and research program director at Mote Marine Laboratory’s Center for Shark Research for a decade before he arrived at UNF. He is currently serving a two-year term as president of the American Elasmobranch Society, the oldest and largest society devoted to the scientific study of sharks and their relatives. 

His research focuses on the ecology of shark populations in northeast Florida waters, shark and ray reproduction, and the effects of environmental pollutants on sharks and other fish species.  

Gelsleichter has taught 11 different courses at UNF, seven of which he developed, and mentored hundreds of students in directed research projects. For his research efforts, he has secured nearly $2 million in grant funding and was awarded the Outstanding Faculty Scholarship Award in 2016. He has co-authored 62 published manuscripts and contributed to more than 200 conference presentations. 

Gelsleichter is a national media expert and has been featured in more than 100 digital, print and broadcast articles. This includes live appearances on national news networks (ABC News with Diane Sawyer, Fox News, MSNBC), a 2018 Discovery Channel documentary appearance during Shark Week, appearances on National Geographic Television’s documentary series “When Sharks Attack,” and a 2013 documentary piece on National Geographic Television’s documentary series “Monster Fish.”