Laura Ferguson

By Dylan McDowell

Laura Ferguson has dreamed of being a scientist since she was a child in Illinois, tromping through local streams. Her early explorations instilled a love of nature that led her to foreign countries and provided the necessary skills for her current post: coordinating with national scientists to protect sea turtles and other iconic species.

Ferguson is serving as a Knauss Fellow in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Office of Science and Technology. The year-long opportunity offers graduate students (or recent graduate students) focused on marine or coastal science an opportunity to work for a federal agency or legislative office in the Washington, D.C., area. Ferguson is one of four fellows from Oregon Sea Grant this year, all of whom are graduates of Oregon State University (OSU).

The experience marks Ferguson's first time working in a formal office, but she is hardly deskbound. Her mentors believe in immersive learning, and Ferguson already has traveled to Peru for a conference and this June will deploy to St. Croix to join a research team monitoring leatherback sea turtle nests and hatchlings.

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