Dr. Lauren Harrell is a statistician, researcher, photographer, outdoor enthusiast, and most importantly, lover of whales. She currently works as a Staff Data Scientist in AI for Social Good within Google Research. For the last five years, Lauren has contributed part of her time to the Bioacoustics team at Google that develops machine learning (ML) models for the detection of whale and bird vocalizations. Part of her current research focus is on synthesizing multimodal data collections and ML output into conservation insights. To create better statistical models, she believes it is imperative to understand the data collection process and loves participating in fieldwork. Lauren completed her PhD in Biostatistics at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and has her bachelors in Biology with a sequence in Scientific Modeling from Claremont McKenna College.
Lauren’s love of whales has taken her all over the world to study and experience cetaceans in their natural environment, including southern dwarf minkes in the Great Barrier Reef, belugas in the Cunningham Inlet in the Canadian Arctic circle, humpbacks in the fjords of Alaska, orcas surrounding Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland, and now to the Antarctic peninsula. In most travels, she brings hydrophones along with her camera equipment to listen in on their amazing vocalizations. Despite living in an oceanless state of Colorado, during the non-winter seasons she spends almost every day on the water as a competitive rower. Lauren is a member of the Explorers Club and follows the philosophy of “have hydrophones/camera, will travel.”