Graduate Student, Psychology
University of Southern Mississippi
Lauren was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana and received her B.S. in biology from Hillsdale College in 2005. There, she enrolled in a summer field course in marine biology set in Long Key, Florida. While on Long Key, Lauren volunteered at the Keys Marine Laboratory in Layton, where the Marine Animal Rescue Society of Miami was housing and rehabilitating a young stranded Pantropical spotted dolphin. This was her first hands-on experience with dolphins and when the smile didn’t leave her face for days afterwards, she knew she had found her calling. Not having much opportunity to work in the marine mammal field living in the mid-west, Lauren spent the summer after graduation working as a research intern at Dolphin Research Center in Grassy Key, Florida. There, she fell in love with the cognitive aspect of dolphin research.
Her experience at DRC and her lifetime love of dolphins and the ocean led her to the University of Southern Mississippi, where she is currently working towards her M.A. and Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology. As a member of the Marine Mammal Behavior and Cognition Lab under the direction of Dr. Stan Kuczaj, Lauren participates in field surveys of wild bottlenose dolphins in the Mississippi Sound, photographing animals for identification and recording and analyzing surface behavior via video and ethogram. She also assists in collecting and analyzing behavioral data on the captive rough-toothed dolphins at Gulfworld in Panama City Beach, Florida.
In the summer of 2007, Lauren traveled to Utila, Honduras to assist in Dr. Kuczaj in studying the rough-toothed dolphin population, as well as other cetacean species, in the area. She also joined SPAWAR and the Naval Research Lab as a marine mammal observer on a three-week cruise in the eastern Gulf of Mexico to study the vocalizations and behavior of beaked whales.
Lauren was introduced to Dr. Kathleen Dudzinski and DCP by Dr. Kuczaj in the fall of 2006. For her MS degree, Lauren studied the role of tactile interactions in reconciliation in the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin population off Mikura Island, Japan.