I'm a Ph.D. candidate studying and teaching Animal Welfare Science and Human-Animal Interactions at Purdue University. My goals are to further knowledge of animal behavior, human-animal interactions, and animal welfare via my teaching and research.
I earned my Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences from Truman State University. At Truman, I focused on horses in my research and teaching. I taught students as hands-on teaching assistants for the interactive classes of Equine Reproductive Practicum and Horse Training Class. Outside of the classroom, I conducted research on the effects of using food-based positive reinforcement for training horses.
After this I completed a short period investigating the welfare of cats in confinement.
In December 2017, I graduated with my M.S. in Comparative Pathobiology at Purdue and a thesis titled The Impact of Tickling Rats on Human-Animal Interactions and Rat Welfare. I continued on in the Animal Sciences department at Purdue to obtain my doctorate. In this work, I am investigating the effects of tickling pet and laboratory rats on the rats themselves and the humans that interact with them. Rats are social animals that seem to benefit from this positive interaction in the laboratory, but what about in a pet store? What is the most effective and efficient tickling protocol? Some rats seem to enjoy this interaction more than others, do they enjoy more benefits? How does establishing a human-animal bond effect caretakers and owners?
In addition to my rat research, I also help out in the O'Haire lab conducting research on PTSD Service Dogs for Military Veterans. In this work, we are looking at both dog characteristics and the psychosocial effects.
I currently am advised by Dr. Brianna Gaskill and Dr. Marguerite O'Haire within the Organization for Human-Animal Interaction Research and Laboratory Animal Welfare Science Lab. I manage both webpages, so check them out for more information on the projects we are working on.