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Ever wonder how science is used at the Zoo? We sat down with Graduate Research Associate, Laura Bernstein-Kurtycz to get some answers.

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Laura working closesly with a student in the Memoirs Program in Rwanda

What or who inspired you to study/work in science?

I can trace my interest in science back to my mother. When I was young, she showed me a book about Lucy, the famous fossil of an Australopithecus afarensis. I can honestly say that interest led me to my biological anthropology degree, which ultimately brought me here.

What do you do at the Zoo?

I study animal behavior and animal welfare. Specifically, I am interested in the effect of the zoo environment on bears.

How do you use science daily in your work?

Every day, I am observing, analyzing, or writing about animal behavior, animal welfare or animal cognition.

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Laura presenting at a past research and conservation night at the Zoo.

What excites you about what you're working on?

I get to work on applied issues - the work we do has direct affects on animals here at the Zoo!

What advice do you have for young women wanting to work in science?

You never know what may turn out to interest you, so try a variety of classes, volunteer opportunities, internships, etc. In college I never would have guessed that my anthropology degree would lead to a job in a zoo.

What is something you want to study in the future?

Bear hibernation in zoos. Bears in some zoos hibernate during the winter, and others do not. I want to know more!

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Laura and Dr. Kristen Lukas on a Mountain gorilla trek in Rwanda.

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