Brianna Leon

M.Sc. (Coursework) student

I completed my undergraduate degree at UC Davis in Animal Science with a focus in Animal Behavior and a minor and Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology. During my time at UC Davis, I participated in a study with Dr. Cassandra Tucker on dairy cattle stepping behavior to help inform flooring decisions for dairy farms with dairy welfare in mind. I also spent 3 years working with Dr. Joy Mench and Dr. Brian Greco, a then PhD student, on the AZA Elephant Welfare Initiative. I started as a video logger, recording stereotypic, feeding, and social behaviors. In my last year, I transitioned to helping Dr. Greco develop an application that zookeepers could utilize to easily and cohesively record their elephants’ behavior. The goal of this application was to aid zookeepers in taking note of science-based welfare-relevant behaviors.

After graduating from UC Davis, I worked at the Sacramento SPCA in the Adoptions department for 2 years, where I got first-hand experience understanding what the general public views as animal behavior and good welfare. While there, I developed an ethogram that objectively tested an incoming dog’s behavior for adoption eligibility that would be easily accessible and usable for a general audience when making important adoption decisions.

I am currently a Master’s by Coursework student with Dr. Alexandra Harlander, and my project focuses on keel bone damage in laying hens and its relation to feather loss and damage. I will be specifically analyzing wing flap amplitude and frequency of hens with different wing feather clipping status and relating it to pectoralis muscle size and locomotion in an aviary and its welfare implications. While at the University of Guelph, I also was a part of the 2019 Graduate team for the AVMA Animal Welfare Judging and Assessment Contest, where we took 1st place in the Graduate Division.