Lauren Cooley

Lauren Cooley

My research is centered on the physiology of marine mammals and sea turtles, particularly as it informs their conservation. I graduated from Cornell University in 2016 with a B.S. in Animal Science. While my undergraduate studies were primarily focused on the anatomy and physiology of domestic species, I knew early on that I wanted to work in the field of wildlife conservation. A summer spent rehabilitating stranded seals and sea otters at the Alaska SeaLife Center confirmed my budding interest in marine mammals, and I spent my final year at Cornell focusing on ecology and marine biology. After graduating, I spent six months rescuing and necropsying manatees as an intern with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. From there, I accepted a position as a Stranding Technician at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies where I responded to strandings across the Mississippi Gulf Coast, rehabilitated sea turtles and cetaceans, and participated in boat based photo-identification surveys of bottlenose dolphins. I am excited to now be back on the West Coast working as the Stranding Coordinator for the MLML Marine Mammal & Sea Turtle Stranding Network.

I joined the Vertebrate Ecology Lab here at MLML in the fall of 2018, and I am thrilled to be studying marine mammal physiology under the guidance of Dr. Birgitte McDonald. My thesis research is part of a collaborative NSF-funded elephant seal translocation study. Within the context of this larger work, my project examines the physiological effects of scientific handling on northern elephant seals. By measuring simultaneous endocrine, cardiovascular, and blood chemistry stress throughout the translocation procedure, I hope to clarify the complex physiological changes induced by research handling. Since physiological stress artifacts likely influence the parameters that researchers are measuring, both science and animal welfare benefit from disentangling the effects of scientific handling on marine mammals.