Laura obtained a joint honours BSc degree in Psychology and Zoology from the University of Bristol, England, and an MSc degree in Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare from Edinburgh University, Scotland. During her BSc, Laura investigated the presence of wing-based acoustic crypsis in moths. During her MSc, Laura studied the social interactions surrounding the infant in a family group of captive Diana monkeys (Edinburgh zoo, Scotland) and assessed the impact of a period of undernutrition during the first 90 days of pregnancy on ewe-lamb bond formation (Scottish Agricultural College, Scotland). Following her MSc, Laura conducted a project to provide an initial time period for habituation of marmosets to the presence of a human observer (MRC laboratory, Edinburgh, Scotland), and worked as a field research assistant on a project monitoring the mating behaviour and courtship of male Satin bowerbirds (New South Wales, Australia). In 2009, she worked as a research assistant, conducting research on the alleviation of pain and distress in laboratory rodents (Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University, England).
In 2010, Laura started her PhD at the Animal Production Systems group of Wageningen University, where she investigated the feeding preferences and behavioural needs of veal calves with regards to solid feed. Her PhD research was part of an interdisciplinary project entitled ‘Novel roughage-based feeding strategies to improve the welfare of veal calves’, which integrated animal behaviour and health, animal nutrition, and modelling of environmental and economic impacts. This project was part of the program ‘The value of animal welfare’ instigated by the Dutch Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, and co-funded by the Dutch Product Board for Animal Feed.
Laura is currently working as a postdoctoral researcher at the Animal Production Systems group, within the Department of Animal Science. Her interest lie in understanding psycho-pathologies in captive animals, such as stereotypies and depression. Laura is involved in projects aimed at developing novel methods to assess positive and negative emotions in animals, and predicting disease or psychopathologies using sensors and intelligent algorithms. Laura currently works mostly with cattle, in particular dairy cows and veal/dairy calves, but also has experience and interest in working laboratory rodents, in particular rats.