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Lauren Charles-Smith

Global Change Fellow Alumna | Fisheries, Wildlife & Conservation Biology | North Carolina State University

2012 – 2013 Global Change Fellow

Where are they now?

As of 2015, Lauren has a permanent position in the Data Sciences and Analytics Group of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Statement of purpose:

I am a forth year Ph.D. student in the Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology Program under Dr. Suzanne Kennedy-Stoskopf with a diverse academic background in mathematics, plant pathology and veterinary medicine. I am capable of grasping complex health and disease interactions that affect both the Plant and Animal Kingdoms. I strive to incorporate this information with my unique ability to understand complex mathematical systems and technology to promote scientific exploration that aims to balance ecosystem health. My research focuses on bridging gaps between multiple disciplines and standardizing how we monitor wildlife movements and interactions in relation to landscape and climate through the development of a novel software tool. Ultimately, I would like to design robust models of disease transmission based upon empirical data collected from the software prototype. Upon completion of my Ph.D., I plan to continue research focused on issues related to interactions between wildlife, domestic animals, humans, and the environments they share. Understanding these interactions is pivotal to sustaining healthy wildlife populations. I will use my research findings to promote civic education and science-based, governmental policies that aim to protect and preserve our wildlife and natural ecosystems.

Description of research:

My research relates to Science Theme 4 Tasks 2-4 by monitoring and modeling how extreme weather events and shifting climatic parameters can alter inter- and intra-species interactions and patterns of resource utilizations by affected individuals and populations. The project aims to create WolfScout, an animal tracking and weather data integration system. Big datasets from multiple sources (e.g. GPS collars, weather stations, severe weather reports, drought conditions, and various maps) are spatially and temporally linked in a spatial database management system allowing for the analysis of animal movements and interactions in a systematic, standardized manner. The system also has the ability to calculate the distance between animals and classified landscape data. WolfScout’s secure, web-based interface can handle real-time, multi-user data export in multiple formats compatible with statistical, mechanistic modeling, and geographic analysis programs. In addition, WolfScout’s design archives data for future use and is customizable to each researcher’s needs. Animal movement data from eastern coyotes and white-tailed deer in a finite landscape is being used to validate the system’s ability to quantify animal interactions and resource utilization as a function of various weather conditions during the collection period. The pervasiveness of deer and coyotes throughout the Southeast make them useful target species for future modeling applications.

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