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Communications and Marketing

Diving with sharks

Chicago magazine selected Laura Hilstrom’s ’00 job as one of the six most “fascinating” in the city.

In the November 2014 article “Chicago At Work,” the senior aquarist at the Shedd Aquarium shares what it’s like to work with saltwater animals underwater in the Wild Reef exhibit.

“It’s such a neat environment. You’re in their world, and because you’re not able to talk all your other sense are heightened,” she is quoted in Chicago magazine.

Hilstrom said she finds it “calming” to dive with animals ranging from coral to big sharks and the Napoleon wrasse fish, her favorite.

The environmental studies and biology double-major, who also minored in psychology, feeds and monitors the exhibit’s Pacific saltwater tropical animals, makes the animals’ gravel beds, and cleans the windows.

“Because the exhibit represents the end of the reef as it goes into the open ocean, it’s more dimly lit than the other tanks, meaning there’s less algae to clean,” she said.

While at the College, Hilstrom was selected the Lincoln Academy of Illinois Student Laureate in 1999.