Meet Our Team: Laura Vander Meiden

1. What’s your role in the lab?
Though I occasionally have the pleasure of getting out on the water and tagging sharks with the RJD team, as the Conservation Writing Intern my primary work for RJD consists of managing and writing for the lab blog. In the blog we summarize current marine science research in a way that anyone, scientist or not, can understand. The blog and the scientific literacy it promotes are critical components of the RJD lab’s outreach initiative, something I am very proud to be a part of.

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2. Tell us a little about yourself.
Born and raised in South Florida, I grew up near the ocean and have always been fascinated by its inhabitants. It is for this reason that I decided to attend University of Miami as a Marine Science, Biology and Ecosystem Science and Policy major. However, more recently my research focus has been stolen away from the ocean by our planet’s winged inhabitants. Since then I have worked in Namibia studying the cooperative nest building behavior of sociable weavers and have started work on my own project to assess the effect of anthropogenic noise on mockingbird song.

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3. How did you get interested in marine biology and conservation?
It would be difficult for me to pinpoint any one starting point for my interest in science and conservation. As early as elementary school I remember martialing my fellow classmates into creating anti-littering posters. Posters that, ironically, likely created more trash than they prevented. Since then my interest in educating others about conservation has only increased and, hopefully, become more effective.

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4. What’s your favorite part about working in the lab?
The best part about working in the lab is the ability to see the sharks up close. While I’ve seen sharks quite a few times while snorkeling and diving, nothing compares to the feel of their rough skin and the powerful muscles underneath. Being that close, it’s impossible to forget that millions of years of evolution have shaped sharks into the top predators that they are today. It is an experience made all the more exhilarating by the knowledge that the work I’m doing will aid in further understanding these incredible creatures.

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