Program Alumni

Perhaps the greatest legacy of the UBC Animal Welfare Program is the many graduates who have gone on to influential positions where they promote the welfare of animals in business, education, government and the animal protection movement.

MSc alumni

Lorna Baird (MSc 2004) is now in Calgary as Executive Director of Alberta Farm Animal Care, a livestock industry organization with the mandate to provide a coordinated approach to advance and promote responsible animal care.

Alejandra Barrientos (MSc 2012) completed her Master’s on benchmarking welfare indicators in dairy cattle and now works as a veterinarian doing dairy consulting work in Chile.

Meghann Cant (MSc 2013) surveyed methods of rehabilitating black bear cubs for her thesis. She now works for the BC SPCA, producing educational materials for adults and youth, including Bark!, the BC SPCA’s magazine for kids.

Lindsay Collings (MSc 2011) completed her Master’s on dairy cattle feeding behaviour, and is now working in the United States for Novus International. She is helping run the COWS on-farm cow comfort project on dairy farms across the US.

Anna Drake (MSc 2007) conducted her thesis research at the Wildlife Rescue Association of British Columbia on ways to improve the welfare and management or orphaned Mallard ducklings. She went on to a PhD in bird conservation at Simon Fraser University.

Nicole Fenwick (MSc 2005) worked for several years at the CCAC promoting Replacement, Reduction and Refinement for animals used in science. She has now joined the BC SPCA to work on development of a Humane Wildlife Control Accreditation Program, a joint project between the BC SPCA and the UBC Animal Welfare Program.

Leigh Gaffney (MSc 2014) recently completed her Masters research on the effects of tank colour on coho salmon preferences and aggression levels.

Christy Goldhawk (MSc 2009) went on to pursue her PhD in the humane transport of cattle at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. Christy now works as Advisor in Animal Wellbeing, Research & Policy, with Elanco Animal Health Canada.

Nadine Gourkow (MSc 2001) was hired by the BC SPCA after completing her thesis on the welfare of cats in an animal shelter. Her research led to the innovative ‘Hide Perch and Go Box’ that reduces stress in thousands of cats awaiting adoption.

Courtney Graham (MSc 2017) completed her master’s on the social behaviour and welfare of laboratory zebrafish. She is now pursuing her PhD in the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph studying the effects of socialization and fear behaviour on kittens and cats.

Amanda Grout (MSc 2003) became an Extension Agent with Colorado State University in Golden, Colorado, where she worked to develop leadership skills in young people and introduce urban children to food production systems.

Julie Huzzey (MSc 2007) completed her MSc research on the study of behaviors that predict illness in dairy cows. She went on to complete a PhD at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY before returning to the AWP to do post-doctoral research. She is now an Assistant Professor at California Polytechnic State University where she teaches courses in applied animal behaviour.

Amber Itle (MSc 2014) came to the Animal Welfare Program as a dairy veterinarian and completed her MSc in dairy cattle behaviour and health. She is now a field veterinarian for the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

Kiyomi Ito (MSc 2009) completed her Master’s in dairy cow comfort. She now works with Novus International as the COWS Project Manager to implement an on-farm cow comfort assessment program in the dairy industry across North America.

Leanne McConnachie (MSc 2007) studied how to assess effectiveness of animal welfare charities in order to improve philanthropic decision-making. She became Director of Farm Animal Programs at the Vancouver Humane Society, an advisor to the Vancouver Foundation and President of the Animal Welfare Foundation of Canada. She now consults with food companies on offering more humanely raised products.

Carly Moody (MSc 2014) completed her MSc research on humane rodent euthanasia and is now a PhD student at the University of Guelph.

Sophie Neveux (MSc 2004) completed her MSc research on lameness problems in dairy cattle and currently works as the Animal Welfare Officer for Canadian Hatching Egg Producers.

Jane Orihel (MSc 2006) surveyed animal shelters across Canada to identify promising methods for rehabilitating aggressive dogs. Jane went on to become an educator in Slovakia.

Lindsey Reich (MSc 2010) studied the effects of various moisture levels on dairy cows’ lying behaviour during different seasons. She then assisted Agriculture Agri-Food Canada with identifying relevant literature in preparation for an on farm welfare assessment project.

Erin Ryan (MSc 2013) research was on public attitudes to housing systems used for pregnant sows. Erin is currently working for the BCSPCA helping to organize public and stakeholder engagement events.

Mitja Sedlbauer (MSc 2005) returned to Ljubljana, Slovenia, as Senior Advisor on animal welfare to the country’s Veterinary Administration. He also chaired the influential Working Group on Animal Welfare of the European Union.

Aniseh Talebi (MSc 2011), a veterinarian who trained in Tehran, Iran, completed her thesis research on how the welfare of dairy cattle is affected by the common management practice of moving cattle into new social groups.

Alexi Thompson (MSc 2018) completed his pasters on how different management practices at dry off affect behaviour in dairy cows as well as developing objective and automated methods for identifying important behaviours of dairy cows.

Geoff Urton (MSc 2005) joined the BC SPCA farm animal department as Manager of Stakeholder Relations, serving as the humane movement’s much respected national representative on farm animal welfare issues and promoting humane farming and transport standards.

Lori Vickers (MSc 2011) completed her Master’s research looking at how feeding different diets before calving impacts the health of dairy cows after calving. She has since worked for Novus International and now serves as Regional Agrologist at BC Ministry of Agriculture.


PhD alumni

Fernando Borderas (PhD 2009) completed a PhD on the care and health of calves and now teaches at the Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana in his native Mexico City.

Liv Baker completed her PhD in 2014.  Her research, in the emerging field of compassionate conservation, focused on stress in Stephens’ kangaroo rats and how individual variation influences success of population translocation.  She then took up a post-doctoral fellowship in Animal Studies at the College of The Environment, Wesleyan University, Connecticut. 

João Henrique Cardoso Costa (PhD 2016) After two short term visits (2009 & 2011) as a visiting scholar, João joined the UBC Animal Welfare Program fulltime in 2012 as a Ph.D. student.  For his doctoral studies (completed in 2016) João focused on understanding the development of feeding behavior and nutrition of calves and the effects of early life environment and experiences on feed preferences, food neophobia and grazing behavior. This work has contributed to the development of strategies to minimize the negative impact of diet changes and the understanding of practices associated with successful group-housing of calves. In his post-doctoral research, Joao is conducting a large-scale survey of intensive, high-producing dairy farms in Southern Brazil, with the objectives of quantifying the prevalence and incidence of lameness in free-stall, compost bedded pack and mixed housing farm systems, and to identify environmental risk factors for lameness in this region.

Ruan Daros (PhD 2019) completed his research in identifying disease in dairy cattle during the transition period.

Andreia De Paula Vieira (PhD 2011) completed her PhD on the effects of early social environment on dairy calf behaviour. Andreia is now back in her native Brazil where she is working on the project AWIN (Animal Welfare Indicators) funded by the EU centered in Scotland. She is also a post-doctoral researcher at Universidade Federal do Parana and an assistant professor at Universidade Positivo.

Trevor DeVries (PhD 2006) is Assistant Professor in Animal Sciences at the University of Guelph. He teaches at the Kemptville campus, which is centered in the traditional dairy farming area of eastern Ontario.

Sara Dubois (MSc 2003; PhD 2014) did her MSc research on wildlife rehabilitation, became Manager of the BC SPCA’s Wild ARC between 2004-2008, and returned to the AWP to complete her PhD between 2014. She is now Chief Scientific Officer at the BC SPCA.  Sara created the APBI 496 Applied Animal Biology Practicum.

Frances Flower (PhD 2006) joined the organic grocery chain Whole Foods Market in Austin, Texas. She is helping launch a new animal welfare standards program for farmers and ranchers.

Heather Neave (MSc 2013; PhD 2019) completed both her research on dairy calf  behavior related to painful procedures and weaning, as well as identifying personality differences in dairy calves and goats. She is now a post doctoral researcher in New Zealand.

Joanna Makowska (PhD 2016) first came to the Animal Welfare Program as a Master’s student and completed her M.Sc. (2008) in humane methods of euthanasia for laboratory rats. Joanna then went on to complete her PhD on the behavioural, affective and health effects of housing rats in standard versus semi-naturalistic laboratory environments. In 2017, Joanna received the NC3Rs International 3Rs prize for her paper “The importance of burrowing, climbing and standing upright for laboratory rats” and will use the prize money to research issues related to understanding what rats need. Her goal is to be able to provide rats with a life worth living.

Carol Morgan (PhD 2009) was an experienced veterinarian in small and large animal practice, before completing her doctoral research on veterinary ethics, publishing seminal work in the field (LINK). Carol’s advocacy work with the BC SPCA, Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, Canadian Council on Animal Care, Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and National Farm Animal Care Council, made a significant difference in the lives of countless animals and led to numerous national awards for her efforts. In 2015, Carol passed away at the age of 51 after a courageous battle with cancer and a memorial award has been established in her honour by the Animal Welfare Foundation of Canada

Lee Niel (PhD 2006), whose doctoral research focused on laboratory rodents, was appointed to the newly created Chair in Companion Animal Welfare at the Ontario Veterinary College at University of Guelph, funded by a gift from philanthropist Mrs. Mona Campbell.

Elisabeth Ormandy (PhD 2012), who’s doctoral work focused on public attitudes toward the use of animals in research, stayed with the Animal Welfare Program as a SSHRC-funded postdoctoral fellow from 2012-2014. Elisabeth is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Animals in Science Policy Institute, and still teaches UBC undergraduate courses in Applied Animal Biology and Integrated Sciences.

Katy Proudfoot (PhD 2013) completed her PhD research on the sick dairy cow, with a focus on identifying factors that increase disease risk. She is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine at the Ohio State University.

Cathy Schuppli (PhD 2004) completed her PhD in 2004. Her research, done in collaboration with UBC’s Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics, dealt with the role of animal ethics committees in achieving humane animal experimentation.  In 2009 Cathy entered the DVM program at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. Since 2013 Cathy has held a full-time appointment as clinical veterinarian at UBC and is an Adjunct Professor in the Animal Welfare Program.

Jeffrey Spooner completed a PhD in 2013. His research involved a Canada-wide study of animal producers and the public to look for areas of agreement on animal welfare that could serve as a basis for policy. Jeff now works as a consultant facilitating multi-stakeholder agreements involving animal welfare related care and handling practices. In addition to serving as the National Farm Animal Care Council’s Code Secretary for the new Bison Code of Practice, he has supported the National Farmed Animal Health and Welfare Council, The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and various international corporations and organizations. Jeff also continues to conduct research and publish in the area of stakeholder perspectives regarding preferred/acceptable animal care policies.

Christine Sumner competed a PhD in 2018. Her research focused on engaging farmers as stakeholders in developing and implementing interventions that affect on-farm animal welfare. Christine moved into the role of scientific officer at SPCA New Zealand.

Cassandra Tucker (PhD 2002) worked for several years as senior scientist in agricultural research in New Zealand, and then returned to her native California to teach animal welfare and behaviour as Associate Professor at the University of California, Davis.

Beth Ventura (PhD 2015) completed her PhD research on stakeholder attitudes and values regarding the welfare of dairy cattle. She is now an Assistant Professor of Teaching, Companion Animal and Equine Behaviour and Welfare, at the University of Minnesota.

Kristen Walker (PhD 2010) did her doctoral research on the welfare of Steller sea lions and followed with a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Calgary School of Veterinary Medicine. Kristen now teaches animal behaviour and welfare courses at UBC.

Gosia Zdanowicz (MSc 2002)  researched the transmission of mastitis in dairy cattle. She currently holds a research position at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Agassiz, British Columbia.

Gosia Zobel (PhD 2015) examined how the cessation of lactation in dairy cows and goats impacts illness and other welfare concerns. Gosia is now at AgResearch Ltd. in New Zealand, guiding work aimed at addressing goat welfare concerns through housing and management improvements.

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