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The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Chemistry professor turns love of Sharksploitation films into books

Photo by Austin Carey for The Lafayette
Chemisty professor Chip Nataro is currently working on a sequel to his 2020 book.

Every week is Shark Week for chemistry professor Chip Nataro.

Nataro watches and writes about shark films outside his teaching and research in inorganic chemistry. He is now more than halfway through his second book on Sharksploitation movies, a genre of film that surrounds sharks or shark attacks.

“It came during COVID when there was certainly a fair amount of time that needed to be occupied and kind of started as something I did with a bunch of friends, other inorganic chemists at other institutions,” Nataro said. “You’re just sharing stuff and I gave my first review of a shark movie to them, which was something utterly ridiculous and stupid, and they found it an entertaining break from dealing with COVID stuff.”

Nataro’s 2020 book, “You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Book: My COVID-19 Odyssey Through Sharksploitation Films,” features an original story and 100 shark films rated on Nataro’s scale of one to five “Zierings,” inspired by Ian Ziering from the Sharknado Franchise.

While writing, Nataro was inspired by a personal interest in sharks and shark films and was motivated by a faculty meeting policy at Lafayette.

“For a long time, the policy at faculty meetings was to announce new books and applaud for them. I am in a discipline that does not write books,” Nataro said. “I’ve been fairly successful in my career publishing things, and yet, it was not going to be recognized. So I will admit, there were probably moments of ‘I’m gonna write about something that’s incredibly dumb, get it published, and we’re going to clap for it.’ And we did.”

Sociology professor David Shulman found joy in Nataro’s writing.

“If anybody’s ever seen the shark movies, you know they are something you would take tongue in cheek, and so, I admire … the wit he put into it, the dedication,” Shulman said. “If there’s a shark movie Professor Nataro doesn’t know, I don’t know what it is. In that sense of humor and just funny quality of reading, it was just kind of something that cheered me up.”

Nataro continues to be recognized, even at chemistry conferences, for his book about shark films. He even decided to swim with sharks at a recent conference in Hawaii.

Despite having watched over 100 films for his first book, Nataro has only cracked the surface of the Sharksploitation film world.

His goal is to reach another 100 shark films before publishing his second book. He has branched out to include international films. However, he remains by his strict guidelines to not include any documentary films.

“You’d like to think that’s where the story ends, but I am sixty movies into the next book,” Nataro said.

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About the Contributors
Paige Mathieu, Staff Culture Writer
Austin Carey, Staff Photographer

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