New staff at the University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Laboratory will amplify innovation in Environmental Science

SREL welcomes three key staff members

By Lauren Maynor

The University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Lab (SREL) is thrilled to welcome three exceptional individuals who bring a wealth of experience to their respective roles. With new and key positions in research support to communication to environmental health and safety, each new staff member fills vital roles within SREL.

John Curnyn, Program Manager for Research Support

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Born, raised, and educated in New Jersey, John Curnyn holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Ramapo College of New Jersey. Recently, he pursued a graduate education in environmental policy and natural resource conflict resolution. With a background in education, public policy, and conflict mediation, Curnyn now oversees all research related to state and federal permitting at SREL. He also chairs the SREL Animal Care Committee and coordinates animal use procedures and research facility utilization. Additionally, he ensures compliance with all state, federal, and institutional animal care and use regulations and procedures by communicating with UGA IACUC staff.

“The opportunity to work at the Savannah River Ecology Lab came unexpectedly after completing my master’s degree, and I consider myself incredibly fortunate. I applied to SREL because of its renowned environmental research and its unique location at the SRS,” Curnyn expressed.

In his free time, Curnyn enjoys listening to and playing music, cooking, running the trails in Hitchcock Woods, and exploring the beautiful surroundings of South Carolina and Georgia.

Lauren Maynor, Science Content Strategist

After growing up in Morganton, North Carolina, Maynor obtained her bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in professional writing from Western Carolina University. Maynor’s passion for science, coupled with her creativity and dedication to public communication and education, led her to join SREL. With a background in social media and biology, Maynor is responsible for developing and implementing a comprehensive content strategy that effectively communicates the SREL’s research findings, initiatives, and environmental conservation efforts to diverse audiences. She also leads the lab’s social media efforts and crafts a wide range of communication pieces highlighting SREL’s impact and research endeavors.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to transform the incredible research conducted at SREL into engaging and accessible content for everyone,” Maynor shared. “In this role, I can express my creativity and love for science through the content I create. I couldn’t ask for a better team to work with as I embark on this new career.”

Outside of work, Maynor finds joy in photography, hiking, reading, hitting the gym, and embarking on weekend road trips.

Sara Smith, Environmental Health and Safety Coordinator

Originally from North Augusta, Smith holds a BS in Biology from the University of South Carolina Aiken and a master’s in nursing from Augusta University. Prior to joining SREL, she gained five years of experience in clinical research. Smith was drawn to SREL because it allowed her to combine her research experience in clinical research with her biology background. As the Environmental Health and Safety Coordinator, she manages scheduling, tracking, and evaluating training needs for SREL staff. Smith also conducts EH&S onboarding for new employees, reports incidents and injuries to DOE, maintains first aid kits and AEDs, coordinates the disposal of universal waste, and serves as the point of contact for the SREL Biosafety Program.

“When working at SREL, no two days are the same, and I find that enjoyable! The wide variety of projects conducted here means that each researcher’s needs are diverse. It also allows me to learn about things I would not be exposed to otherwise,” Sara shared. “It’s a unique place to work, so I jumped at the opportunity. Plus, there are critters!”

During her leisure time, Smith indulges in cooking, baking, reading, and embarking on hikes with her husband, 1-year-old daughter, and their dog Dexter.