Dr. Joanna Makowska Alumni Profile

What brought you to the Animal Welfare Program?

I have always had a strong affinity towards animals, wanting to spend time with them and to understand what they think and feel. My goal was to become a zoologist. After my undergraduate thesis project in which I investigated foraging and vigilance behaviour in grey squirrels, I realized that I wanted to do research that would benefit the animals I was studying. After some searching, I discovered the field of ‘animal welfare science’ and knew instantly that this was the right fit for me. I was particularly interested in the welfare of laboratory animals, partly because of what I had learned about how they were used in science during my undergraduate studies in Biology and Psychology at McGill University. I chose the UBC Animal Welfare Program because I was advised by a mentor that it was a great place to study the welfare of laboratory animals.

What have you been doing since graduating from the AWP?

After my M.Sc. and PhD at the UBC Animal Welfare Program, I worked on a contract with the BC SPCA to research and develop science-based standards for humane dog training. Shortly after, I became the Laboratory Animal Advisor at the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) . AWI is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC advocating for the better treatment of all animals (companion, farm, wild, research). I am also an adjunct professor at the UBC AWP, which allows me to continue to be involved in research and academia. I feel fortunate to have two complementary positions: in my work at AWI, I am able to help in the dissemination and implementation of higher standards for animals in research; in my position at UBC, I am able to contribute to the creation of new approaches to improving the welfare of laboratory animals.

What advice do you have for students?

I advise current students to take advantage of all the opportunities that arise while in school: there is no substitute to experiential learning and connections made with others. It is through doing that you learn most about yourself (what you like and what you’re good at) and through conversations with others that you come up with novel and creative ideas and solutions. Most of all – pursue studies that you are passionate about; graduate school is a lot of work, but if you enjoy it, it is also a lot of fun.

I can be found on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joanna-makowska-789455a9/