I grew up in Brooklyn, New York and completed an undergraduate liberal arts degree at Princeton University. Given my love of animals from childhood, I then entered a pivotal Master’s Degree program in Animal Behavior and Conservation at Hunter College, City University of New York. This program introduced me to a broad range of research perspectives and afforded me a firm grounding in statistics. During my Master’s program, I had the opportunity to conduct research at the UBC Dairy Education and Research Centre in Agassiz. This experience gave rise to my Master’s thesis concerning cow-calf separation and helped solidify my career goals. Upon graduating in 2013, I entered Cornell University under a US Department of Agriculture grant to pursue a PhD in Animal Science, with minors in microbiology and epidemiology. My goal was to expand my hard-science training to facilitate an impactful animal welfare research career. I spent the final year of my PhD at Wageningen University in the Netherlands on a US Fulbright Scholarship, investigating MAP bacteria, the causal agent of Johne’s disease in ruminants. My dissertation features a mathematical model to facilitate the understanding of MAP infection dynamics on dairy farms. During my Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at UBC, I hope to integrate my interests in animal behavior, cognition, and epidemiology into research aimed at improving the quality of life for animals.
My concern for animals and the environment has always been a part of who I am. With the goal of becoming a zoologist, I studied Biology and Psychology at McGill University in Montreal, the city where I grew up. I first heard of Animal Welfare Science as a discipline sometime near the end of my B.Sc., and knew instantly that this was what I wanted to do. Soon after graduation, I moved to Vancouver to pursue my M.Sc. in the welfare of laboratory animals at the University of British Columbia (UBC). The focus of my early research was to find a humane method of euthanasia for laboratory rats, given the reality that euthanasia is the most common laboratory procedure, and yet the method most frequently used at the time was aversive to rats. During this time, I developed an interest in more general issues affecting the welfare of rats used in research. For my PhD, I studied the life experiences of rats housed in standard laboratory conditions compared to rats living in semi-naturalistic environments. Some of this work was awarded the 2016 NC3Rs International 3Rs prize, which enabled me to return to the UBC Animal Welfare Program as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in June 2017. My goal is to deepen our understanding of what is important to rats and how best to provide them with a good life. My current research focuses on burrowing behaviour and the benefits of giving standard-housed laboratory rats daily access to a playpen where they can engage in important natural behaviours.
I was born and raised in rural Iowa. In 2006, I earned my B.S. in Agricultural Science and Environmental Ethics from The Evergreen State College where I also coordinated the student-run lambing operation. After graduating, worked for several years as Program Director for the Washington State Dairy Federation where I worked with legislators, regulatory agencies, scientists and NGOs on agricultural policy in the areas of environmental stewardship, labor/immigration, food safety and animal welfare. I also directed the Washington Dairy Industry Research and Education Program where I organized the first Washington Farm Animal Welfare Symposium.
I received my PhD with the UBC Animal Welfare Program in 2017 and I am now working as a Post-doctoral Fellow. My scholarly interests lie at the intersection of science and philosophy. I am especially interested in applying psychological theory and methods to study issues surrounding agricultural sustainability – particularly animal welfare. To date, my research has investigated the relationship between farm size and animal welfare indicators; the effect of transparency on public trust and perceptions of modern agriculture; attitudes towards painful procedures; how cosmetic surgeries (i.e. tail docking and ear cropping dogs) alter perceptions of both dogs and their owners; and attitudes towards biotechnologies aimed at improving animal welfare. My most recent project involves using experimental methods to explore folk concepts about animal welfare/ethics, as well as a study assessing public attitudes about tie stall housing dairy cattle.