Lance J. Miller, Ph.D., Senior Director of Animal Welfare Research, received his graduate training in Experimental Psychology from the University of Southern Mississippi. Previously, he held positions as a Research Manager at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Scientist for the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. Dr. Miller focuses on animal welfare to help ensure that each individual animal within zoological facilities is thriving. He is currently a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Research and Technology Committee, Chair of the AZA Animal Welfare Committee, and a steering committee member for the AZA Behavioral Scientific Advisory Group.
Jessica Whitham, Ph.D., Animal Welfare Biologist, received her graduate training from the University of Chicago’s Department of Comparative Human Development. Jessica has spent 15 years designing, implementing and analyzing behavioral studies for a variety of taxa. She also has experience monitoring the physiological stress responses of birds, mammals and reptiles using enzyme immunoassay analyses. She is co-developer of the WelfareTrak® system designed to monitor the welfare of individual animals. Jessica’s undergraduate and graduate research focused on primate communication and cognition.
Melinda Conners, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Research Fellow, received her graduate training in the Marine Vertebrate Ecology & Physiology Lab at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Dr. Conners focuses on the implementation of bio-logging technology to describe and interpret the behavior of elusive, difficult-to-observe species, like many marine predators. She has eight years of experience researching the behavioral ecology of seabirds, predominately albatrosses, using bio-logging devices and has additionally participated in field efforts investigating the ecology of raptors, wolves and grizzly bears. Prior to her graduate training and field excursions, Melinda became interested in behavioral ecology and animal communication research while participating in a study of stingless bee communication as an undergraduate at UC San Diego.
Katie Hall, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Research Fellow, received her graduate training from the University of St Andrews’ Scottish Primate Research Group, in collaboration with the Yerkes National Primate Research Center. Prior to joining the Animal Welfare Research Team, she was a postdoctoral research fellow at MD Anderson Cancer Center in collaboration with Georgia State University. Dr. Hall has seven years of experience studying chimpanzee behavior and cognition in relation to deception and cooperation. Additionally, she has conducted field seasons in Uganda and Madagascar, studying primates’ responses to anthropogenic habitat disturbance.
Molly Staley, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Research Fellow, received her graduate training in the Biological Sciences at Auburn University. Dr. Staley began her career at Iowa State University, where she worked as a research assistant in the field of avian physiological ecology and aging. Having varied interests, Dr. Staley concurrently sought out an opportunity to work in molecular virology and study arboviruses. From there, Dr. Staley accepted a one-year fellowship through the Cellular and Molecular Biosciences Program at Auburn University, which provided an opportunity to build skills through research rotations. Collectively, these experiences enabled Dr. Staley to take novel, multi-disciplinary approaches to her graduate research on emerging infectious diseases of wild birds. As a member of the Animal Welfare Team, Dr. Staley draws upon her uniquely diverse expertise to help develop and implement laboratory tools that can be used to inform on animal welfare.
Jocelyn Bryant, Endocrinology Lab Manager, received her B.S. in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1999), and completed her M.S. in Biology from the University of Nebraska (2010). Jocelyn became interested in behavioral endocrinology while working as a zookeeper at the Brookfield Zoo and volunteering in the endocrinology lab. She currently has approximately 50 species validated for reproductive and stress hormone assays and successfully runs one of the only three service labs in the country. Jocelyn was one of the founding members and previously a board member for the International Society of Wildlife Endocrinology (ISWE), a group focused on developing collaborations and sharing knowledge with fellow wildlife endocrinologists world-wide and staying on the forefront of new techniques.
Catherine Razal, Animal Behavior Research Assistant, received her B.S. from the University of Arizona where she majored in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology with a minor in Chemistry. After graduating, she held internships and assistant positions at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and Walt Disney World's Epcot. In 2012, she volunteered as a Research Assistant at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, examining the hormones and behavior of cheetah and okapi to assist with efforts on developing a tool to monitor the welfare of zoo animals.
Kailee Schulz, 2017 Spring Animal Welfare Research Intern
Amanda Williams, 2017 Spring Animal Welfare Research Intern
Interns/Externs (Historic since 2014):
Sierra Semel, 2016 Fall Animal Welfare Research Intern
Estafania Rodriguez, 2016 Spring Animal Welfare Research Intern
Anne Provost, 2016 Spring Animal Welfare Research Intern
Sarah Martin, 2015 Fall Animal Welfare Research Intern
Elizabeth Japczyk, 2015 Fall Animal Welfare Research Intern
Mollie Kemp, 2015 CZS/Otterbein University Research Extern
Amanda Stilwell, 2015 CZS/Otterbein University Research Extern
Katy Gilbert, 2015 Spring Animal Welfare Research Intern
Jeffrey Hudson, 2015 Spring Animal Welfare Research Intern
Kristie Charmoy, 2014 AIP Extern