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Shanna Braun

Senior Environmental Scientist

Shanna running the Twin Cities Marathon
Shanna performing vegetation monitoring in Montana
Shanna hiking at Gooseberry Falls with boyfriend Chris
Shanna Braun grew up in Minot, North Dakota, where her father was stationed at the Air Force base. During her sophomore year of high school, a science teacher encouraged her to attend a six-week-long science camp at North Dakota State University.

“I lived in the dorms and worked on actual lab projects with professors,” said Shanna. “It was great.”

Her undergraduate studies took her back to the university, and a scholarship allowed her to conduct lab work at the graduate level. She discovered, much to her surprise, that she didn’t enjoy it.

“I realized that sitting in a lab all day, running the same test over and over, just wasn’t for me,” said Shanna. “I wanted something more hands-on out in the real world, so I changed my major to natural resources management.”

The switch to an applied science has provided far more satisfying project work involving stream restoration and mitigation, environmental review and impact assessment, and public involvement. It has also allowed her to dabble in a lot of different areas—which is just the way she likes it.

“A number of high-profile historic bridges in North Dakota needed repair around the same time, leading to a project to mitigate the impacts stemming from those repairs,” said Shanna. “I gained broad experience in bridge structural components and co-authored a coffee-table book that documents the history of bridge-building in the state and the stories of individual bridges.”

Another project provided a different kind of learning experience, one related to engaging and interacting with audiences that have varying levels of education and English-language abilities.

“The client initially presented the project details in a highly technical manner, but the audience struggled to understand and was skeptical that everyone was being provided the same information,” said Shanna. “I learned the importance of being well prepared and tailoring materials to the audience—especially when it’s not one that you interact with regularly.”

Shanna’s interest in natural resources extends beyond work as well—whether it’s fishing, camping, or travelling. She also appreciates urban green space.

“I live in a part of Minneapolis with easy access to numerous parks and trails,” said Shanna. “It’s perfect for walking my dog and meeting up with my running club. I’ve run two marathons and recently completed my first triathlon. I loved it—once I conquered my fear of open-water swimming. I can’t wait to complete another!”