Martinez-Levasseur, Dr. Laura Maria


Name: Dr. Laura Maria Martinez-Levasseur
Position: Current Collaborator (Independent Scientist and Science Communicator); Former Post-Doctoral Fellow (Trent University)
Research Project: Walrus and Population Health in Nunavik (Quebec, Canadian Arctic), Drawing on both Scientific Methods and Inuit Knowledge (Post-Doctoral Fellowship – completed)
Academic background: Post-Doctoral Fellowship (Trent University, Canada, 2012-2015); PhD in Biological Sciences (Queen Mary University of London and the Institute of Zoology in London, United Kingdom, 2011); MSc in Marine Biology and Ecology (Centre of Oceanology of Marseille, Aix-Marseille II University, France, 2006); BSc in Marine Biology (University of La Rochelle, France, 2004)
Contact information:

About the researcher:  

After obtaining a PhD in Biology at Queen Mary University of London in England (2011) on the “Effect of solar radiations on whales”, I did a post-doctoral fellowship in natural & social sciences at Trent University in Canada (2012-2015). During my postdoctoral project, entitled “Walruses and population health in Nunavik (Quebec, Canadian Arctic), drawing upon both scientific methods and local ecological knowledge”, I was working with four Inuit communities and interviewed 33 walrus hunters and Elders – a fascinating experience. I was particularly interested in implementing strategies to increase trust and confidence in local ecological knowledge datasets as a valuable source of knowledge for wildlife management decisions. During my research, I enjoyed presenting my project and the corresponding results at international conferences (e.g. ArcticNet), Inuit meetings (e.g. Nunavik Marine Wildlife Management Board), and through various school projects (e.g. Inuit schools of Quaqtaq, Ivujivik, Inukjuak and Kangiqsualujjuaq). Currently, while writing scientific papers about my latest research project, I am doing training in scientific journalism/communication, an important skill to develop as a researcher.


Martinez-Levasseur L.M., Furgal C., Hammill M. and Burness G. (Accepted) Challenges & strategies when mapping local ecological knowledge. Polar Biology.

Martinez-Levasseur L.M., Furgal C., Hammill M., and Burness G. (2016) Towards a better understanding of the effects of UV on Atlantic walruses (Odobenus rosmarus rosmarus): a study combining histological data with local ecological knowledge. PLOS ONE. 11(4):e0152122.

Martinez-Levasseur L.M., Gendron D., Birch-Machin M., Bowman A., Weatherhead E., Newman P.,   Knell R.J. and Acevedo-Whitehouse K. (2013) Whales Use Distinct Strategies to Counteract Solar Ultraviolet Radiation. Scientific Reports. 3:2386.

Martinez-Levasseur L.M., Gendron D., Knell R.J. and Acevedo-Whitehouse K. (2013) Control and target gene selection for studies on UV-induced genotoxicity in whales. BMC Research Notes. 6:264.

Bowman A., Martinez-Levasseur L.M., Acevedo-Whitehouse K., Gendron D. and Birch-Machin M. (2013) The simultaneous detection of mitochondrial DNA damage from sun-exposed skin of three whale species and its association with UV-induced microscopic lesions and apoptosis. Mitochondrion. 13(4):342-9.

Bowman A., Martinez-Levasseur L.M., Acevedo-Whitehouse K., Gendron D. and Birch-Machin M. (2012) Mitochondrial DNA, a reliable biomarker for measuring the effect of cumulative ultraviolet irradiation exposure in whales (cetaceans). In: Annual Meeting of the British Society for Investigative Dermatology. Exeter, UK: British Journal of Dermatology: Wiley-Blackwell.

Martinez-Levasseur L.M., Gendron D., Knell R.J., O’Toole E.A., Singh M. and Acevedo-Whitehouse K. (2011) Acute sun damage and photoprotective responses in whales. Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences. 278:1581-1586.

Awards/Scholarships/Grants related to this current project:

  • 2013-2015: Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada; Principal Investigator: C. Furgal
  • 2013-2015: Symons Trust Fund for Canadian Studies Grant; Principal Investigator: L. Martinez-Levasseur
  • 2013-2015: Nunavik Marine Region Wildlife Board Research Grant; Principal Investigator: M. Hammil, DFO
  • 2012-2013: Government of Canada Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship funded by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
  • 2012-2013: NSRC Trent University Internal Grant