Graduate Students

Graduate students are listed by laboratory:

Renee Bergeron
Trevor DeVries
Ian Duncan
Derek Haley
Alexandra Harlander

Georgia Mason
Lee Niel
Stephanie Torrey
Patricia Turner
Tina Widowski

 

Bergeron Lab


Sebastian Goumon

Sébastien Goumon

Sébastien is working on pre-slaughter management of market pigs. He is looking at ways to facilitate unloading from pot-belly trucks and to reduce stress associated with handling procedures. He is also trying to find out whether unloading elicits mainly a physical or a psychological challenge, and he is measuring whether exposure to successive stress periods affects pig recovery during transport.

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Danielle Lombardi

Danielle Lombardi

Danielle is working with Dr. Renée Bergeron at campus d'Alfred. Her project is the first one in a series of studies examining the potential of two plants containing high levels of condensed tannins, namely chicory (Chichorium intybus, var. Puna) and birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus, var. Bull) for improving dairy cow performance and health. The aim of the project is to understand cow feeding behaviour when exposed to these unfamiliar plant species. Voluntary feed intake, feeding rate and preference will be assessed for chicory haylage harvested in the am; chicory haylage harvested in the pm; birdsfoot trefoil harvested in the am; birdsfoot trefoil harvested in the pm. Since quantities consumed by cows should be carefully controlled in order to avoid milk taint, knowing the voluntary feed intake and feeding rate of high tannin species will allow us to better manage cow’s access to “therapeutic pastures”.

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Carrie Woolley

Carrie Woolley

Carrie grew up on a dairy farm in Simcoe, Ontario where she developed a fascination and love for animals. An interest in high school for biology and health sciences lead her to begin the Biological and Medical B.Sc. program at the University of Western Ontario. However her interest in animals led her to switch to the University of Guelph to finish her B.Sc. degree in Animal Biology in Spring 2011. Upon completion of her undergraduate degree Carrie travelled to U of G's Alfred campus in Summer 2011 to begin her M.Sc in Animal Behaviour and Welfare. Her research project involves investigating the behavioural responses of dairy cows on pasture in response to pest fly species. More specifically, she looks at fly repelling behaviours such as skin twitching, tail flicking, leg stamping, head throwing, grazing time, milk production and stress. She also collects useful pest fly information, such as densities of specific pest fly species (face & house flies, horn flies, stable flies, deer & horse flies, stable flies) throughout the summer, and location of pest fly species on body (head, neck, back, sides, belly, legs, udder).

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DeVries Lab


Robin Crossley

Rachael Coon

Rachael graduated in 2013 from Mount Allison University with a B.Sc. with honours in biology. She began her M.Sc. research in Dr. Trevor DeVries' lab in September 2015. Her project looks at how dietary physically effective fibre affects feeding and rumination behaviour in the transition dairy cow.

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Clemence Nash

Robin Crossley

Robin developed her interest in animals and the environment growing up on her family's dairy farm in Maple, Ontario. She graduated from the University of Guelph in 2009 with a B.Sc. in Marine and Freshwater Biology and went on to work for different environmental organizations. She later returned to her agricultural roots and completed an Agriculture Diploma from the University of Guelph, Kemptville Campus in 2014. It was while attending school in Kemptville that Robin first began working part-time as a research assistant for Dr. Trevor DeVries, eventually leading to a full time position after graduation. Robin began her MSc research with Dr. DeVries in 2015, focusing on the effects and mitigation of feed competition on the behaviour of lactating dairy cows.

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Meagan King

Meagan King

Meagan is a PhD student, and former MSc student, of Trevor DeVries. She grew up in Edmonton, AB and moved to the Kingston area in 2007. With a background in biology and environmental sciences from Queen’s University, she loves all creatures great and small. During her time at Queen’s, she worked with fish and aquatic invertebrates. After spending time on the road with a local large animal veterinarian, she became interested in dairy cows. Her MSc project focused on how the timing of fresh feed delivery, relative to the time cows are milked, impacts behaviour and productivity. Her current PhD project looks at factors affecting milking attendance and frequency in automatic milking systems, as well as ways to better identify sick and lame cows using information recorded electronically by automatic milking systems.

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Morgan Overvest

Morgan Overvest

Morgan grew up on her family’s dairy farm in Vankleek Hill, Ontario where she developed a passion for dairy cattle. From a young age she planned to attend the University of Guelph to pursue an education in large animal veterinary medicine. In her third year of an Animal Biology degree she took Ian Duncan’s animal welfare class where she quickly developed a keen interest in the field of animal welfare.  This interest led to a summer research assistantship in Trevor DeVries’ lab working on various feeding behaviour studies. In the fall of 2013 Morgan began a M.Sc degree in animal behaviour and welfare. She is currently investigating the milk-weaning success of dairy calves fed a high plane of nutrition. This research will contribute to the development of better weaning protocols and calf feeding practices. Morgan hopes to use her degree along with her farming background to work with producers to develop protocols that increase animal welfare in dairy farming. 

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Ivelisse Robles

Ivelisse Robles

Ivelisse was born in New Jersey, United States and raised in the beautiful island of Puerto Rico.  At a very young age, she became fascinated by animals, how they behaved and their well-being. This concern for animal’s well-being led her to believe she wanted to be a Veterinarian. She studied at the University of Puerto Rico-Arecibo for a year and then she moved back to the United States as she had planned for years, to continue her studies. She completed her BSc. in Animal Science at the University of Delaware (2009).  At her junior year, she realized she wanted to work with animals but not as a veterinarian. During her senior year, she went to a winter study abroad in Australia with a focus on agricultural education and livestock production, did an artificial insemination course at Precision Diagnostics during the spring as well as a summer internship at the Brandywine Zoo in Delaware. Upon her graduation, she took a year off from college to explore her career options, as her interest for animal behavior and for teaching grew. In 2010, she began her MA in Curriculum and Instruction at the Angelo State University in Texas. In 2012 after her MA completion, she resigned to her 6 year job at AT&T as a retail sales consultant and she moved to Edinburgh to complete her MSc. in Applied Animal Behavior and Welfare at the University of Edinburgh. For her MSc. thesis research, Ivelisse went to the UBC Dairy Education/Agriculture and Agri-food Research Centre in Agassiz, BC. Her research focused on changes in activity and oestrus behavior in heifers between the first and later oestruses. Upon her Msc. graduation (2013), Ivelisse taught Science at a middle school in Puerto Rico for a semester and then moved to Canada in August to begin her PhD. in Animal Behavior and Welfare at the University of Guelph-Kemptville Campus with Dr. DeVries. Her PhD. focuses on the impact of cow housing comfort on behavior and udder health.  

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Haley Lab


Catalina Medrano-Galarza

Catalina Medrano-Galarza

Catalina is a PhD student in the Haley Lab. She grew up in Bogota, Colombia and completed her Veterinary degree at La Salle University in her hometown in 2006. Since then, she has worked in animal health research. Catalina is a very sensitive person, interested in the welfare of farmers but also of animals; these interests motivated her to complete an MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2011. After two years back in Colombia, working in dairy and dual-purpose cattle welfare at the Colombian Corporation of Agricultural Research, she was awarded a prestigious national scholarship from the Colombian Government to come to the University of Guelph and start her PhD in May 2014 under the supervision of Dr. Derek Haley. Catalina’s research is examining the use of automated (computerized) milk feeding systems for rearing dairy calves to improve calf performance, welfare, and future productivity. Being at the University of Guelph will help her to reach one of her life’s goals, which is to have a positive impact on dairy producers through the development of tools and strategies that guide them toward more sustainable and profitable production practices that also satisfy the well-being of the animals, and in the end, offer a better quality of life for both the farmers and their animals.

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Clemence Nash

Clemence Nash

Clemence graduated from the University of Guelph in the winter of 2010 with a BSc degree in Animal Biology and a minor in Nutrition and Nutraceutical Science. She has always been passionate about animal agriculture and has worked part-time within both the equine and dairy industries for many years - this lead her to consider doing graduate work with large animals upon her graduation. In the fall of 2010 she began a Masters by thesis program in Epidemiology and Applied Ethology in the Department of Population Medicine at the OVC, focusing on the behaviour and welfare of dairy cattle. She has since received an Industrial Postgraduate Scholarship from NSERC, in partnership with Dairy Farmers of Cananda and has transferred to a PhD. She is continuing her research within the dairy industry and hopes to pursue a career within dairy upon graduation. Clemence is co-advised by Drs Derek Haley and David Kelton

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Marianne Villettaz Robichaud

Marianne Villettaz Robichaud

Marianne has her undergrad degree in Agriculture and her Master of Science degree in Animal Sciences from the University Laval in Québec. After working as a research technician for a summer at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, she started her PhD in Epidemiology and Applied Ethology in the Department of Population Medicine. Marianne’s research topics revolve around calving management practices and their impact on the behaviour, health and welfare of dairy cows and calves. Marianne is co-advised by Drs Derek Haley and David Pearl.

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Tanya Wilson

Tanya Wilson

Tanya is an MSc thesis student, who began her program in May, 2015. She grew-up on a dairy farm and completed a BSc in Animal Biology (U of Guelph). Her interest in research began with a summer research experience related to dairy cattle nutrition, supported by the OMAFRA – U of Guelph Partnership. Tanya went on to complete two research projects in the final year of her undergraduate program. She always had a special interest for animal behaviour, and welfare topics, which prompted her to seek for graduate studies in these fields. Tanya’s research is examining automated milk feeding systems for rearing dairy calves, with a focus how calves learn to use the feeders. The applied goal of this research is to determine optimum methods for introducing calves into group-housing with automated feeders to make training calves easier for the calves, and the farmers. Tanya’s project is funded by the Dairy Farmers of Canada through the Dairy Research Cluster, and the Canadian Agri-Science Cluster Initiative.

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Harlander Lab


Patrick Birkl

Patrick Birkl

Patrick Birkl is a Ph.D. student with Dr. Alexandra Harlander. He grew up in St. Anton, a Ski resort in the Arlberg region of the Austrian Alps, and is a passionate skier. Patrick did a BSc in Biotechnology at the Management Centre Innsbruck (MCI), during which he visited the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics at Oxford University, where he developed my thesis. After that Patrick did a MSc program in Zoology at the University of Innsbruck. In his master's thesis he dealt with the influence of maternal care on behaviour and welfare of chicks. It was during this project that Patrick decided to continue his research on poultry. This sparked his interest in the University of Guelph and Dr. Harlander's research on feather pecking in laying hens. Patrick is fascinated by research related to this topic, as global hen numbers reach 5 billion individuals annually and result in the death of hundreds of millions of birds due to feather pecking. Despite over 50 years of research to alleviate this problem, the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood and no practical solution has emerged. Patrick's research focus is therefore on understanding the mechanisms for feather-pecking behaviour in laying hens. He is hoping that through a better understanding of the underlying causes and how they interact, suggestions can be made on how to improve measurements that prevent feather pecking in practice. With these findings, there is the potential to benefit the welfare of a vast number of birds.

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Madison Kozak

Madison Kozak

Madison Kozak is a Masters by thesis (2 year program) candidate under the supervision of Dr. Alexandra Harlander. She completed her undergraduate degree in Animal Biology at the University of Guelph and is a proud Gryphon! Aviaries (housing enclosures that can have several tiers which allow the birds to fly up and down) are becoming an increasingly popular method to house industry birds due to the welfare concerns of other housing systems. However, it is assumed that there is an association between keel bone damage and multi-tier systems due to collisions. Her research is the first ever study that looks how chickens of different ages and strains navigate in an aviary systems, more specifically which angles and directions they can master without colliding with the housing system/enrichment. The results will ultimately allow Madison to determine if commercial aviaries are suitable for all ages and strains of chickens and how we can improve the design of current aviaries to reduce injuries and improve chicken welfare worldwide.

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Stephanie Leblanc

Stephanie Leblanc

Originally from a small village in southeastern New-Brunswick, Stephanie attended the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in 2008 where she obtained my B.Sc. (Agr.) in Animal Science. She discovered animal welfare while attending class as an undergraduate student; the subject captured her interest and lead her to take on a research project looking at the impact of furnished and conventional cages on calcium metabolism in laying hens. This resulted in a new found interest in poultry welfare and inspired Stephanie to pursue graduate studies in this field. In the fall of 2013, she was fortunate enough to join Dr. Alexandra Harlander's team as a Master's by Coursework (1 year program) student at the University of Guelph. The topic of her research focused on gaining insight into the potential risk factors of falls likely resulting in an incidence of up to 70% fractured keel bones in laying hens kept in non-cage systems. She completed the program in August 2014 and is currently working in Dr. Harlander's lab.

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Chantal LeBlanc

Chantal LeBlanc

Chantal is from Hamilton, Ontario and completed her Animal Biology honours degree here at the University of Guelph, in Ontario. Her interest in animal behaviour and welfare began in her fourth year of her undergraduate degree when she was privileged to complete the research in animal biology full credit course under the supervision of Dr. Esther Finegan.  Chantal's research focus for this course was to determine the daily behaviour time budget of the Western Lowland Gorillas at the Toronto Zoo and its' welfare implications. She is now in the process of completing her Master's by thesis (2 year program) in animal behaviour and welfare under the supervision of Dr. Alexandra Harlander. Her project is a segment of a laying hen locomotion project: The development of locomotion in the air and on the ground in laying hens, the birds' preferences for flying and walking, and the significance of this knowledge for the proper housing of laying hens in non-cage systems to avoid keel bone fractures in free-run birds. Chantal's segment of the project includes determining the effects of ontogeny and strain upon the strategies laying hens use to ascend inclines. Determining the maximum incline and ramp design that laying hens can master is information that is critical to producers and for the welfare of these animals in order prevent injuries within these systems. She is now approximately half way through her Master's program, and has enjoyed every minute of it. Stay tuned for results in the new year!

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Madison Kozak

Bishwo Pokharel

Bishwo Pokharel is a PhD student under the supervision of Dr. Alexandra Harlander. He completed his undergraduate degree in Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry from the Tribhuvan University, Nepal. After that he joined the University of Manitoba to do his Masters in Animal Science where he got exposed to well-equipped research facilities related to animal farming, feed production and biotechnology, particularly with swine and poultry. This developed his interest towards research work related to nutrition, animal health and behaviour. After completing his Masters, he joined the Harlander lab where he spends most of his time understanding the behaviour of laying hens especially in regards of their preference over different kind of litters and how they make decisions individually vs in a group setting. He is also involved in observing behavioural responses of laying hens exposed to different concentrations of gases, especially ammonia. Apart from research activities, Bishwo is a big fan of soccer and likes to play soccer in his spare time.

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Mason Lab


Jamie Ahloy Dallaire

Jamie Ahloy Dallaire

Jamie Ahloy Dallaire is a Ph.D. candidate in the Mason lab, currently conducting research on the effects of social play on fitness and welfare in fur-farmed American mink. He is testing the hypotheses that social play prepares mink for adult sexual behaviour, and that it trains mink to cope with unexpected situations, leading them to develop into less fearful adults. Jamie grew up in Trois-Rivières, Québec, and then pursued undergraduate studies in biology at McGill University. There, he did laboratory research on the metabolic costs of social signals in weakly electric fish, and worked as a research assistant for a field project on chipmunk behavioural ecology. His M.Sc. research, also in the Mason lab, used mink as a model species to ask why environmental enrichment successfully eliminates stereotypic behaviours in some individuals but not in others, focusing on individual differences in enrichment use and in perseveration (behavioural inflexibility). As a side project, he also investigated behaviour and enrichment use in physically disabled Asiatic black bears at theAnimals Asia Foundation's rehabilitation centre in Sichuan Province, China. Jamie is currently funded by an Ontario Graduate Scholarship.

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Cleo Beaulieu

Cléo Beaulieu

Cléo has a BSc Honors in Biology and a major in psychology from the University of Ottawa. During her undergraduate degree, she focused mainly on neuroscience and physiology, which lead her to complete a fourth year Honors research project during which she investigated the influence of gill remodeling on the adrenergic stress response in the goldfish. Her interest in animal welfare began during a OUPFB Whale and Dolphin Conservation field course, where a visit to a Hong Kong marine park, combined with field work on wild dolphins, instilled in her a desire to improve the well-being of both coastal and captive cetaceans. In pursuit of a project that would allow her to integrate both her interest in welfare and her passion for behavioral psychology and neurophysiology, Cléo joined Dr.Mason’s team, whose research incorporates both animal welfare and neuroscience. Her MSc project aims to determine whether sub-optimal housing can induce depression-like states in working horses. She will complete her project in Rennes, France, with the collaboration and support of the EthOs group, lead by Dr.Hausberger.

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Heather Kinkaid

Heather Kinkaid

Inspired by a love of creatures wild and domestic that was born during summers spent at her family cottage in Kawartha Lakes and her grandmother’s farm in rural Ontario – but not satisfied by a succession of pet hamsters and a subscription to National Geographic magazine – Heather, who was raised in the Toronto suburb of Markham, Ontario, headed off to Laurier University in Waterloo to earn a Bachelor’s degree in biology and ecology. She also completed a concurrent Bachelor’s degree in psychology and an undergraduate thesis looking at kin recognition in rats. She graduated with strong interests in animal behaviour and neurobiology, and went on to earn a Master’s degree in neuroscience at the University of Toronto. Afterwards, she gained experience in other fields as a research assistant at the Queen’s University in Belfast and a research publications editor at the Toronto General Research Institute. When she learned of Georgia Mason’s work on animal welfare at the University of Guelph’s Animal Science department, she was fascinated by the opportunity it presented to draw on her diverse background in biology, ecology, behaviour, and neuroscience. So, she won an NSERC Doctoral Canada Graduate Scholarship (http://www.nserc-crsng.gc.ca/students-etudiants/pg-cs/bellandpostgrad-belletsuperieures_eng.asp) and joined Georgia’s group as a PhD student in fall 2010. Her research project is a comparative study that aims to determine why closely-related species of parrots (order Psittaciformes) may differ in their intrinsic susceptibilities to welfare problems in captivity. 

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Jeanette Kroshko

Jeanette Kroshko

A University of Toronto graduate, Jeanette was awarded an NSERC PGS-M. Georgia was lucky enough to attract her to her lab for a collaborative project, co-supervised by Dr. Axel Moehrenschlager of the Calgary Zoological Society.  Jeanette is currently working on a meta-analysis project concerning carnivores in captivity.  Different species vary enormously in how well they adapt to captivity. Some positively thrive, living far longer than they would in the wild and breeding at rapid rates. Others, in contrast, are prone to stereotypic behaviour, poor health, and reproductive problems. In 2003, Georgia’s PhD student Ros Clubb showed that across around 25 species of Carnivora, natural ranging behaviour predicted success in captivity: species with naturally small ranges were more likely to thrive in captivity, while those with large ranges were more likely to have high infant mortality rates and severe stereotypic behaviour (see Nature 425: 473 – 474). However, this finding leaves many questions unanswered. Does natural behavioural ecology play this role by predicting which species are most frustrated by being caged? If this explanation is correct, then the relationship between natural ranging and captive welfare should be most marked in wild-caught individuals. Alternatively, natural behavioural ecology could be important because it determines which species are most prone to impaired brain development when maturing in captivity. If this idea is correct, then the ‘home range’ effect is most marked in captive-bred animals. To test these hypotheses, Jeanette will expand and update Clubb’s database, use zoo records to separate out wild-caught from captive-bred individuals, and then run new analyses.

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Misha Buob

Misha Ross

Misha completed his Master’s in Georgia Mason’s lab, researching the welfare of mink dams on commercial farms. He investigated whether the addition of retreat bunks improved the health and welfare of dams late in the nursing period. The bunks provided dams with the opportunity to temporarily escape their kits. He originally became interested in the University of Guelph because of its influence on welfare reform in the poultry industry. He earned a BSc. in Animal Biology in 2008. Growing up on a small farm in southern Ontario, he is divided between his interests in carpentry, agriculture and animal welfare. Misha has now returned to the Mason lab to pursue his PhD. His primary research goal is to identify behavioural and physiological indicators of positive emotions in chickens. Misha also aims to identify environmental enrichments that are effective at inducing positive emotions and helping chickens cope with negative aspects of their environment.

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Walter Sanchez-Suarez

Walter Sanchez-Suarez

Walter grew up amidst the bucolic Asturian countryside, in the northwest of Spain, and also spent three years in the hectic Buenos Aires (Argentina).  Initially he wanted to become a field biologist, but finally decided that as a vet he could also learn about other animal species, and contribute to their welfare at the same time.  During his years at the University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain), the University of Bologna (Italy), and the Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain), he had the opportunity to realize how human activities often cause immoral suffering to a huge number of nonhuman animals.  Once graduated, he knew that he wanted to help to stop this terrible situation, and decided to pursue an education in animal welfare.  After a short stay at the Department of Animal Welfare and Animal Behaviour at the Free University of Berlin (Germany), he was awarded with a scholarship to pursue a masters degree at the Department of Logic and Moral Philosophy of the University of Santiago de Compostela, where he studied issues related to consciousness and the moral consideration of nonhuman animals.  After being awarded with a la Caixa-International Council for Canandian Studies scholarship, in September 2011 he joined the group of Georgia Mason as a PhD student. He is currently researching the relationship between consciousness and emotions, with the aim to learn more about the distribution of conscious capabilities across species.

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Michael Walker

Michael Walker

Mike grew up in Calgary, AB and has had an interest in animals from a very young age.  This interest, as well as a love for football, led Mike to Queen’s University where he played varsity football for the Golden Gaels while completing a BSc in Biology.  After graduation in 2008, Mike became involved with the zoo community as a volunteer in animal care and was strongly considering zoo keeping as a profession.  However, during this time, Mike became very interested in animal welfare science, prompting him to contact Dr. Georgia Mason at the University of Guelph.  Mike completed his MSc by coursework in 2010, and is now working on his PhD with Dr. Mason which is funded by a PGS D NSERC scholarship.  Mike’s work focuses on using environmental enrichments to improve laboratory mouse welfare.  Specifically, he is interested in discontinuous enrichment (the gain or loss of resources) during the juvenile phase, and how this may have a lifelong impact on mouse behaviour and welfare.  Furthermore, Mike is fascinated by the link between welfare and longevity, and hopes to study this interaction in detail throughout his time at the UoG.  The ultimate aim of this research is to help inform both mouse breeders and research labs on the best enrichment practices for their mice.  

Michael Walker, PhD Candidate | Department of Population Medicine| University of Guelph | Guelph, ON | Tel, 519-824-4120 | mwalke04@uoguelph.ca


Tara Walsh

Tara Walsh

Tara is finishing her MSc in animal behaviour and welfare, looking at maternal care in ranched mink. Her goal is to determine a character trait in mink considered "bad mothers" so that farmers can select against this trait before young are lost. Tara began her journey into animal behaviour and welfare during her undergraduate studies here at the University of Guelph, where she completed her BSc. Agr. in animal science. She joined the Mason Lab in a hope to incorporate her love of animal behaviour and passion for genetics, however soon found her path changing. Once her eyes were opened to the field of animal welfare, she couldn't look back. Tara plans to pursue a career in animal welfare, focusing on both livestock and companion animals. Her MSc. is funded by the HQP program by OMAFRA.

Tara Walsh, MSc Candidate | Department of Population Medicine| University of Guelph | Guelph, ON | Tel, 519-824-4120 | twalsh@uoguelph.ca

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Niel Lab


Lauren Dawson

Lauren Dawson


Lauren completed her BSc. in Biology from McGill University. An undergraduate animal behaviour course sparked her interest in applied behaviour and welfare, which then led her to Guelph to complete the course-work Animal Behaviour and Welfare program. By the time she had completed her research project, Lauren had caught the research bug and decided to join Dr. Lee Niel's group as a PhD student in 2011. Her research explores companion animal welfare, with the goals of identifying aspects of veterinary care that may affect welfare and developing a welfare assessment tool made specifically for companion animal veterinary clinics.

Lauren Dawson, PhD Candidate | Department of Population Medicine| University of Guelph | Guelph, ON | Tel, 519-824-4120 |

Hannah Flint

Hannah Flint


Hannah completed her BSc in Animal Biology from the University of Guelph in 2011. She became interested in animal behaviour and welfare through various courses at Guelph and chose to pursue a masters after completing an undergraduate research project with Dr. Ken Leslie looking into the effects of sodium bicarbonate on neonatal calf health. She also has experience communicating research findings to producers through a summer job working for the alliance of Ontario Rabbit, Ontario Goat and Ontario Veal writing articles for their newsletter. She completed her MSc working with Dr. Derek Haley in the department of Population Medicine. Her thesis focused on the behaviour and welfare of cattle unloaded for feed, water and rest during long-duration transportation. She is currently a PhD student with Dr. Lee Niel in the department of Population Medicine and is exploring fear behaviour and stranger-directed aggression in dogs.

Hannah Flint, PhD Candidate | Department of Population Medicine| University of Guelph | Guelph, ON | Tel, 519-824-4120 |

Tara Walsh

Jacquelyn Jacobs

Jackie completed her BSc degree in Animal Science at the University of New Hampshire in 2005. Following her undergraduate education, Jackie worked for three years as a companion animal veterinary technician, gaining experience in behaviour consultations after shadowing one of the veterinarians specializing in behaviour. This is where she realized her true passion; understanding why animals do what they do. She decided to pursue additional studies at Michigan State University, leading to an MSc degree in animal behaviour and welfare in 2011. Her thesis projects investigated dairy cow behaviour when adapting to being milked by a robotic milking system. Jackie was awarded an Ontario Trillium Scholarship to pursue a PhD, allowing her to migrate to Canada and the University of Guelph. Her current work focuses on understanding canine resource guarding behaviour, which involves one of the most common types of aggression.This behaviour is marked by threats and/or overt aggression when another animal or person approaches what the dog perceives to be a valuable resource. Although this behaviour problem is relatively common and has serious implications for human and animal welfare and safety, there have only been a handful of studies published on this topic and the causes of this problem have not been examined scientifically. The main objective of this research is to examine inherent and environmental-related factors that increase the risk for the development of resource guarding behaviour through both retrospective and prospective studies. Jackie expects the results of this research to inform preventive strategies aimed at decreasing the risk of development of this behaviour.

Jacquelin Jacobs, PhD Candidate | Department of Population Medicine| University of Guelph | Guelph, ON | Tel, 519-824-4120 | jjacob01@uoguelph.ca

Dorothy Litwin

Dorothy Litwin

Dorothy has had an interest in companion animal behaviour ever since she can remember. As a young girl growing up in Poland she brought home every stray animal she came across, created insect and gastropod habitats, trained mice to use a maze and trained her first dog at the tender age of 9. Following her life-long passion, she left her job as an Account Manger in 2007 and proceeded to complete a BA in Psychology with a focus on Animal Behaviour at York University. Dorothy is now working toward her MSc; her research project is looking at how exposing kittens to specific handling and socialization procedures will affect their behaviour during veterinary exams later in life. Complementary to her degree, Dorothy also owns and operates a companion animal behaviour consulting practice, helping pet owners deal with behavioural issues such as house-soiling, animal/animal aggression, separation anxiety, and other common problems that affect the relationship between companion animals and their owners.

Dorothy Litwin, MSc Candidate | Department of Population Medicine| University of Guelph | Guelph, ON | Tel, 519-824-4120 | dlitwin@uoguelph.ca

Alex Mitcham

Alexandra Mitcham

Alex is completing her M.Sc.in Epidemiology with Dr. Lee Niel in the Department of Population Medicine. She completed her B.Sc.H. in Biology at Queen's University in 2013, where she took a fourth year course in epidemiology that piqued her interest in this department. During her undergrad, Alex also spent time volunteering with veterinarians and at local shelters, which sparked a passion for animal behaviour and welfare. Alex’s current research combines here interests of epidemiology, ethology, and welfare. She is examining impulsive behaviour in dogs, to determine whether it is influenced by early socialization and associated with development of aggression. Alex is currently working with dogs that are boarding and in daycare at a local kennel, and assessing the relationship between their early social history and performance on behavioural tests of impulsivity.

Alexandra Mitcham, MSc Candidate | Department of Population Medicine| University of Guelph | Guelph, ON | Tel, 519-824-4120 |  

Carly Moody

Carly Moody

Carly’s interest in animal welfare science developed while obtaining a B.Sc. (Hons) at the University of British Columbia (UBC). The more she learned about animal welfare and behavior science, the more intrigued and enthralled she became. By the end of her undergraduate degree, Carly knew she wanted to conduct her own welfare research. In 2013, she completed a M.Sc. with the Animal Welfare Program at UBC. Her master’s research focused on laboratory mouse welfare, assessing and refining common methods of mouse euthanasia. After completing her M.Sc., Carly wanted to continue with animal welfare science with a move into the companion animal welfare realm. As a re-occurring adopter of geriatric shelter cats and an unwavering cat person, she has always been very interested in feline welfare. This passion led her to the University of Guelph to start a Ph.D. in animal behaviour and welfare under Dr. Lee Niel in September of 2014. Carly’s interests include the assessment and creation of identification tools for feline pain and stress, as well as the development of mitigation strategies. Carly is interested in improving feline welfare through applied research within a variety of settings, as well as exploring how other research methods and techniques may be utilized to assess and improve feline welfare.

Carly Moody, PhD Candidate | Department of Population Medicine| University of Guelph | Guelph, ON | Tel, 519-824-4120 |  

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Torrey Lab


Hillary Dalton

Hillary Dalton

Originally from Edmonton, I took my first steps into the world of animal behaviour and welfare in 2010 at the University of Alberta with a BSc specializing in animal biology. After graduation, my growing interest led me to Scotland, where I studied for an MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare at the University of Edinburgh and completed a dissertation on feather pecking in laboratory zebra finches. My thesis examined the role of both environmental enrichment and bird personality on damaging pecking behaviour – research themes that brought me back across the Atlantic in 2012 to study for a PhD in Poultry Behaviour & Welfare at the University of Guelph.

Under the supervision of Dr. Stephanie Torrey, my current doctoral research focuses on behavioural and physical traits associated with injurious pecking in domestic turkeys. Injurious pecking is a leading cause of mortality in commercial turkey production. Pecking injuries often require culling resulting in decreased productivity and representing a significant concern for turkey welfare. My initial study, completed in 2013, concerned the role of leg health and body size uniformity in groups of adult tom turkeys. The study also involved the successful validation of small HOBO G Pendant accelerometers for step detection in both juvenile and adult turkeys.

My current research focuses on quantifying the amount of genetic variation in beak morphology of domestic turkeys. The area is important from both a business and welfare perspective as sufficient genetic variation in beak shape may allow future breeding strategies to select for birds with blunter beaks. This research could eliminate the need to beak trim - reducing destructive pecking injuries and, ultimately, improving bird welfare.

Hillary Daltoni, PhD Candidate | Department of Animal Biosciences| University of Guelph | Guelph, ON | Tel, 519-824-4120 | hdalton@uoguelph.ca


Turner Lab


Abbie Viscardi

Abbie Viscardi

Abbie completed her BSc in Animal Biology at the University of Guelph in 2013. The following year, she worked with Dr. Patricia Turner as a research assistant and discovered a passion for research in the animal welfare field. She also fell in love with piglets, a species she had very little experience with before taking this research position. In September 2014, she started an MSc in Pathobiology under the advisement of Dr. Turner and has since transferred into a PhD program (May 2015). Her research focuses on piglet pain behaviours and facial grimacing after undergoing surgical castration and tail docking. She is exploring the use of analgesics and topical anesthetics provided pre-emptively to mitigate pain. Abbie anticipates the results of her research will provide producers with appropriate recommendations to improve piglet welfare.

Abbie Viscardi, PhD Candidate | Department of Pathobiology| University of Guelph | Guelph, ON | Tel, 519-824-4120 |


Abbie Viscardi

Jessica Walsh

Jessica grew up in a rural community outside of Barrie where her love of animals and nature developed. Her childhood was spent mainly outdoors taking care of her pet rabbits, which lived in an in-ground hutch tunnel system that she and her dad built. In 2009, she attended the University of Guelph. In her final years of undergrad she was introduced to the discipline of animal welfare science and formed a strong connection.  She realized her goal was to have a career working for animals even if it wasn’t working directly with them.  After graduation she began her animal welfare research in the Turner lab analyzing mouse pup pain behaviour following ear notching. During this year she discussed with Dr. Turner her strong interest for rabbit animal welfare work. In September 2014, she enrolled in the coursework Master’s program in Animal Welfare. She then switched to a Pathobiology thesis-based Master of Science degree in the spring of 2015. Her MSc project is evaluating on-farm euthanasia methods in commercial meat rabbits. Her passion for rabbits and her belief that euthanasia is a kindness that can be given to animals that are suffering has motivated her while working on this challenging topic. The results of her research will validate appropriate euthanasia methods that producers can use on-farm, allowing compromised rabbits to be culled in a timely and humane matter. She is also developing various educational tools for producers to train and prepare them better for recognizing when animals should be euthanized.

Jessica Walsh, MSc Candidate | Department of Pathobiology| University of Guelph | Guelph, ON | Tel, 519-824-4120 | jwalsh03@uoguelph.ca

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Widowski Lab


Amila Bandara

Amila Bandara

PhD Student with Tina Widowski and Stephanie Torrey.

Amila Bandara, PhD Candidate | Department of Animal Biosciences | University of Guelph | Guelph, ON | Tel, 519-824-4120 Ext. 58580 | rbandara@uoguelph.ca


Widowski Lab


Anita Tucker

Teresa Casey-Trott

Although I always knew I wanted to pursue a career working with animals, it wasn't until my 4th year of university that I discovered the fascinating world of studying animal behaviour. After completing my BSc in Biology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I enrolled at the University of Guelph to begin a MSc by thesis in the Animal Behaviour and Welfare graduate program with Dr Tina Widowski. Even though I was very new to the field, the wide variety of courses offered and the well established group of professors in the ABW group, provided me with an environment to gain a thorough understanding of animal behaviour and welfare science.

My MSc research project focused on alternative euthanasia methods for piglets. It was a challenging topic, but also very important since humane euthanasia is an area in great need of research for many species. After completing my MSc, I began a PhD with Dr Tina Widowski studying the effect of rearing environment on the bone health of laying hens in furnished cage systems. My project compares chicks raised in environments that encourage load bearing exercise in the form of hopping, running, flapping and perching, to chicks reared in standard cages where opportunities for load bearing exercise are limited, in order to determine whether early opportunities for load bearing exercise have long term beneficial effects on the bone strength and health of laying hens.

I hope to use what I have learned during my graduate studies to pursue a career in knowledge transfer or extension between academia and the agricultural industry.

TERESA CASEY-TROTT, PhD Candidate | Department of Animal Biosciences | University of Guelph | Guelph, ON | Tel, 519-824-4120 Ext. 53557 | tcasey@uoguelph.ca


Anita Tucker

Michelle Hunniford

Along with my advisor Dr. Tina Widowski, I am working on a project that focuses on the behaviour and welfare of laying hens in furnished cages. Over the course of different laying flocks, our lab is investigating the production, behaviour and welfare of hens housed in large furnished cages with different experimental treatments including cage size, space allowance and rearing environment. In particular, I am interested in the nesting behaviour and nest use of hens housed in large furnished cages. My next experiment will involve more specific questions about the aspects of nest design that laying hens prioritize, and how to provide those resources. My overall goal is to be able to give recommendations to improve the design of nest areas within large furnished cages and to improve overall laying hen welfare.

MICHELLE HUNNIFORD, MSc Candidate | Department of Animal Biosciences | University of Guelph | Guelph, ON | Tel, 519-824-4120 Ext. 53557 | mhunnifo@uoguelph.ca


Anita Tucker

Krysta Morrisey

During my BSc in Animal Biology at the University of Guelph, I worked as a Summer Research Student for Dr Tina Widowski and realized that there were many opportunities to work with animals other than in the veterinary field. This is when my interest in farm animal welfare started to develop leading me to undertake an MSc in Animal Behaviour and Welfare, working under Dr Stephanie Torrey and Dr Tina Widowski. The main focus of my MSc project was to evaluate the effect of dietary alterations (i.e. by increasing fibre or bulkiness of the diet and adding appetite suppressants to the diets, as well as manipulating feeding frequency) on hunger in broiler breeder females.

Since graduating from my MSc program in 2012, I have taken on a PhD studentship with Dr Vicky Sandilands and Dr Tina Widowski. Although I am a University of Guelph student, I am based in Scotland and conducting my research at SRUC’s Avian Science Research Centre in Auchincruive. My PhD project is entitled: “Behavioural and nutritional management of non-beak trimmed laying hens in large furnished cages” and will aim at identifying factors that support successful housing of non-beak trimmed hens within the UK industry. As I am supported by both SRUC and the University of Guelph for this PhD, my hope is to return to Canada with the knowledge and experience I’ve gained while in Scotland and apply it to the Canadian egg industry.

KRYSTA MORRISEY, PhD Candidate | Department of Animal Biosciences| University of Guelph | Guelph, ON | Tel, 519-824-4120 Ext. 53557 | kmorriss@uoguelph.ca


Anita Tucker

Mariana Roedel Lopez Vieira Peixoto

I began my undergraduate degree in Biology but switched to Animal Science when I discovered the fascinating possibility of working with animals to feed the world. During my undergraduate career I had the opportunity to conduct research in fish nutrition, horse behaviour and poultry welfare.

Born and raised in Brazil, I first came to Guelph in 2014 as an undergraduate internship student to work with the Poultry Welfare Group under Dr. Tina Widowski’s supervision. After completing my internship and receive my undergraduate degree, I started my M.Sc. in the Animal Welfare and Behaviour graduate program still with Dr. Widowski.

My research is based on the hypothesis that maternal stress in different strains of laying hens can influence and affect the behavioral development of the offspring. In order to analyze that, I will be conducting gene expression and epigenetic analysis (DNA methylation studies). The importance of this research is the possibility to address an actual welfare issue - the occurrence of epigenetic transfer of behaviour and stress -, through behavioural tests and genetic expression, with application to egg production by working with commonly used laying strains.

Mariana Roedel Lopez Vieira Peixoto, MSc Candidate | Department of Animal Biosciences| University of Guelph | Guelph, ON | Tel, 519-824-4120 Ext. 53557 | mroedell@uoguelph.ca


Caitlin Woolcott

Caitlin Woolcott

In 2014, I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Guelph with a double major in Animal Biology, and Psychology: Brain and Cognitive Science. During my undergraduate degree I began working with laying hens in the behaviour lab within the Department of Animal Biosciences (formerly Animal and Poultry Science). I worked alongside many researchers, and quickly developed a passion for Poultry welfare. It wasn't long before I applied for a masters position within this field. I am now a part of a team of researchers spanning across North America to assess the best method for on-farm euthanasia of Poultry. This project will allow for science-based recommendations on best practices to ensure euthanasia devices are humane, effective and pose minimal threat to the operators.

Caitlin Woolcott, MSc Candidate | Department of Animal Biosciences| University of Guelph | Guelph, ON | Tel, 519-824-4120 Ext. 58335 | cwoolcot@uoguelph.ca

 

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