Environmental Science, Convocation, Students

Environmental science graduate launches career protecting at-risk species

October 07, 2022

When it comes to her career, new alumnus of SFU’s School of Environmental Science Lauren Laturnus is determined and resolute. “I’m fortunate enough to have discovered what I am truly interested in pursuing,” she says. 

Lauren chose to study environmental science because of her passion for animal well-being and conservation, hoping to arm herself with the knowledge and skills to launch a career where she can have a meaningful impact on the preservation of species affected by climate change. Ocean mammals and birds are some of the affected species she’s most interested in. It’s a crucial time for this work, she says. “Action at all levels must be taken now.”

Driven to learn everything she can and gain hands-on experience applying knowledge from her studies, Lauren has pursued work opportunities that align with her goals.

Her interest in marine life led her to a job at the Vancouver Aquarium while in school. There, she got a close-up look into ongoing initiatives in ocean conservation and marine mammal rescue, connecting with guests to educate them about these initiatives and the animals. She also spent two summers working to rehabilitate injured and orphaned fledglings at the Wildlife Rescue Association of BC. She cared for as many as 50 birds during her shifts, feeding them and monitoring their health.

Currently, Lauren works as a research assistant for Ruth Joy, a professor in SFU’s School of Environmental Science. She’s been living on Saturna Island in B.C.’s gulf islands since the beginning of June, researching the impacts of ocean vessels on cetaceans. While working in the field in July she was among the first to spot the newest calf born in K-pod, the smallest of three local families of endangered orcas.

Once Lauren has completed five months of data collection in the field she’ll carry on working to analyze and categorize the vocalizations of endangered South Resident killer whales. “I hope to continue working to protect and conserve these and other at-risk species,” she says.

Congratulations Lauren!