Alumni Spotlight: Lauren Kasparek
Integrating Public Health, Law, and Science, Alumnus Lauren Kasparek Makes Her Mark
By: Christine Wendling
B.S., Coastal Environmental Sciences, 2011
Lauren Kasparek is a 2011 Coastal Environmental Sciences graduate and ORISE Research Fellow at the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education. ORISE fellowships are geared toward recent graduates interested in public service opportunities and working with the government. Kasparek has both a Master of Public Health from Harvard University and a Juris Doctor from Tulane University Law School; however, she attributes her time in the CES program with giving her the critical thinking and communication skills necessary to incorporate her three passions: public health, law, and science.
Prior to her current job at the EPA, she served as a student attorney on a Clean Water Act case in Mississippi that resulted in a 2014 settlement between the City of Hattiesburg and Gulf Restoration Network. Ultimately, the city agreed to build a wastewater treatment system by September 2018 that will prevent polluted waters from being discharged into the Leaf and Bouie rivers and determined penalties should the city miss the proposed construction deadlines.
“Having an environmental sciences background was crucial for successfully representing our clients and understanding the issues at hand,” Kasparek said.
Part of the reason Kasparek decided to go to law school in the first place was because she did not see enough attorneys who are scientists.
“It's so important to have attorneys who understand the science and why laws and regulations are written a certain way. CC&E’s CES program did a good job of ensuring that its students were comfortable speaking about science and really emphasized the communication aspect of it,” Kasparek said.
Now, after returning to school for her public health degree, she works in the EPA’s Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water, researching and communicating about harmful algal blooms, disinfectant by-products, and potable water reuse. Kasparek led the development of a document published in January 2018 on the current science and resources available on potable water reuse, which involves advanced treatment of wastewater so it can be used as a drinking water source. This information could be useful to areas of the U.S. experiencing water scarcity or that are interested in exploring ways to supplement their water portfolio.
“Of all the schools that I can claim, including Harvard or Tulane, I tell people first that I went to LSU. As a student, once I realized what I was interested in—coastal systems, wetlands, and the policy issues surrounding them, LSU’s CES program was the only one that checked all those boxes. And, I'm glad I made the choice,” Kasparek said.