Laura Bridgeman Ireland

I have always been passionate about the natural world and it’s protection, so the Environmental Studies program in the Geography department seemed a natural fit. 

I appreciated the diversity of courses on offer and studied a wide range of topics, such as biogeography, GIS, and human geography. I enjoyed working with my fellow students on group projects, and found the school lounges to be great places to hold meetings for our local Greenpeace chapter and other extra-curricular activities. 

While I was fascinated by what I was learning about the world, I remained unsure as to how to apply these skills to post-graduate life while incorporating my passion for conservation. Fortunately, everything clicked into place when I took Technology and Environmental Ethics with Prof. Marc Saner. The class equipped me with the theory and various ethical lenses through which to critically examine our culture, and encouraged me find new ways to affect positive change using science and advocacy. 

Since graduating, I have founded an organization called Sonar, based in San Francisco, that advocates for dolphin and whale (cetacean) rights and does cognitive research with wild cetaceans. Using existing and emerging science, our goal is to evolve the ethical landscape that promotes human exceptionalism and mediates harmful relationships with other-than-human animals. My work has taken me swimming with wild dolphins in places like Ireland and the Bahamas; speaking to schools and conferences in places like London and New Mexico; and witnessing the horrors of dolphin slaughters in Japan. 

It was Ottawa U – the professors, courses and people - that fueled my passion and gave me the robust knowledge base and critical eye that is vital to this work. It gave me the confidence to reach for what I had always dreamed. I am glad I chose this school and encourage others to do so as well!




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