Conservation biologist Rachel Graham champions an unlikely hero: sharks. As director of WCS’s Gulf and Caribbean Sharks and Rays Program, she works to create a constituency for the protection of these magnificent—and often misunderstood— ocean giants. In 2011, Dr. Graham won the 2011 Gold Award from the Whitley Fund for Nature for her work to implement a national action plan for sharks in Belize, and to get more local people actively involved in protecting their ocean wildlife and coastal biodiversity. Her work has also helped contribute to the protection of local livelihoods and Belize’s economically important tourism industry.

New York Times reporter Claudia Dreifus recently interviewed Dr. Graham about her work on behalf of sharks and rays.