Lauren Benoit ’16, MO ’17

Degrees: B.S. in Marine Biology, Master of Oceanography

Career: Underwater cinematographer, safety diver

It’s kind of a love-hate thing with sharks for most of us.

Although “Jaws” is a perennial favorite on scariest film lists and the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” has record-breaking viewership year after year, our fondness for sharks wanes in open water.

Not, though, for Lauren Benoit. She’s the one in the water filming them.

Benoit, who has a bachelor’s degree in marine biology and a master’s in oceanography, will be spending this year traveling the world, filming sharks with internationally known underwater cinematographers. She’s already worked on a “Shark Week” episode to air later this year.

“I will be working on many projects relating to sharks, but in different areas around the world and on different species,” Benoit said. “Many jobs are for the Discovery Channel and also for the BBC and National Geographic.”

Benoit’s fascination with sharks tracks to childhood when her family spent summers traveling by boat to Canada and other destinations. On one of those family trips, she had her first shark sighting—a Basking shark filter feeding at the water’s surface. After that, she read and watched everything she could about the fish. Now, her fascination is coupled with a deep appreciation for the shark’s function.

“Sharks have been around for over 400 million years, keeping prey and lower populations in check. Due to overfishing, their populations are rapidly declining. I have participated in many shark conservation projects, and there is a difference between a healthy ecosystem with sharks and one that has been fished out,” Benoit said.

“Showing people the true side of sharks will help with conservation efforts and show people how important they are in sustaining our oceans.”


Emely Baez was in high school in Woonsocket, R.I., when she learned about the 1990s genocide in Rwanda. A teacher spoke about the tragedy and introduced the class to a woman who had barely escaped with her life.