Students in the Animal Studies Graduate Specialization

 

Jessica Bell
Department: Sociology
E-mail: jesselainebell@gmail.com; belljes2@msu.edu

Jessica Bell is a doctoral student in Sociology specializing in Animal Studies and Environmental Science and Policy. She completed her undergraduate degree in Human Development and Psychological Services and her M.A. in Counseling Psychology at Northwestern University, where she focused on domestic violence and childhood trauma. She developed her interest in interdisciplinary research through her work at the Social Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of Chicago, where she studied social resilience and health through an interdisciplinary framework that utilized biological, psychological, and sociological levels of analysis. Jessica has a longstanding interest in animal issues and conservation issues, and has volunteered in these areas for many years. Her volunteer work led her to become interested in how issues such as animal abuse, sustainable energy, and wildlife conservation are linked to sociological constructs such as socio-cultural beliefs, economic structures, community violence, and social change. Jessica’s research interests include: environmental sociology and the intersection of human, environmental, and animal issues; the intersection of animal abuse, child abuse, and domestic violence; how the language used to describe animals reflects and shapes the treatment of animals; and historical and philosophical perspectives on animal ethics. In looking at the intersection of human, environmental, and animal issues, she is particularly interested in farming systems, zoological crime, conservation education, humane education, and the impact of social alliances and social networks on environmental conservation and animal advocacy.

 

Seven Bryant Seven Mattes (Bryant)
Department: Anthropology
E-mail: seven.bryant@gmail.com

Seven Mattes is a doctoral student in sociocultural anthropology and has completed the animal studies specialization and the gender, justice, and environmental change specialization. She received her bachelor's degree from Western Michigan University in 2007, double-majoring in anthropology and environmental studies and double-minoring in comparative religion and Japanese. Her research is focused on the emerging animal welfare movements in Japan, particularly as it applies to the recent 3-11 disaster. Seven is broadly interested in the relationships people posesses with non-human animals and how they perceive themsevles in relation to various species, or categories, of animals. She seeks to understand the development and variety of human-animal relationships in nations less-affected by prominent Western philosophies. Her other interests include: the intersection of activism and academia, vegetarianism and veganism, anthropocentricm, human exceptionalism, and comparative religion. Seven's work is inspired by her two cats, Ooky and Bean, and her husband Andrew.

 

Cadi Fung
Department: Department of Geography
E-mail: fungcadi@msu.edu

Cadi Fung is a geography doctoral student whose academic, personal and professional interests are all centered on creating a verdant, just and peaceful world for humans and all other species. She worked with the now-famous dolphin Winter, the injured dolphin with a prosthetic tail who stars in the hit movie Dolphin Tale.Cadi also worked as an animal advocate at a major Florida animal theme park before re-entering academia to earn a MSc. in geography. During her work at the animal park, Cadi became close friends with a binturong named Jerry, and is delighted to discover that there are binturongs at Potter Park Zoo. Cadi's MSc. posited a new field of geography called Anthropocene Geography that examines the fact that our species now controls the planet and is deciding the fate of planetary ecosystems, ecosystems services, and biodiversity. Cadi is guided by deep ecology, a set of principles that asks us to give up anthropocentrism in favor of recognizing the intrinsic value of all life. She is especially motivated to preserve native ecosystems and native flora and fauna, and is concerned that the spread of unregulated capitalism and consumerism, combined with human population growth, may soon exceed earth's biological carrying capacity. With a dual-degree undergraduate background in aquatic biology and geology and her current focus on humanistic geography, animal geographies, and human-nature interaction, Cadi is eager to work with others who have empathy, admiration, and concern for non-human species.

 

Katherine Groble
Department: Community, Agriculture, Resource and Recreation Studies
E-mail: grobleka@msu.edu

Katherine Groble is a master’s student in the CARRS department focusing on International Community Development and specializing in Animal Studies. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in Animal Behavior and French in 2010. Since then she has worked in the fields of wildlife conservation, ecological restoration, and most recently sustainable agriculture. She currently works with the pastured pigs at the Student Organic Farm and is interested in humane and sustainable livestock production systems. She is also a Masters International student and will be leaving in June, 2013 to complete 27 months of Peace Corps service in Benin, West Africa, before returning to MSU to complete her degree. While there, her she will be assisting with development projects addressing community-based natural resource management and sustainable agriculture techniques. She hopes to integrate this experience into her thesis, which will (tentatively) be centered on the cultural dimensions of the human/animal relationship as they relate to livestock in developing countries.

 

Meghan Charters
Department: Sociology
E-mail: meghan.charters@gmail.com

Meghan Charters received a B.A. in communication and sociology from Western Michigan University in 2005. She is pursuing her doctoral degree in Sociology where she is currently researching the implications of media sensationalism as it relates to the human perception of sharks and shark attacks. She is also interested in marine wildlife tourism, specifically in South Africa, and its influence on local communities and marine ecosystems. Her specializations are in Animal Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy. Some of her interests include shark activism, marine wildlife conservation, animal welfare, wildlife law/policy, environmental sociology and marine pollution. In her down time she can often be found watching shark documentaries, people watching at the local coffee shop, hiking and camping throughout the country and spending time with her cat, Mako.


Christopher Jordan Christopher Jordan
Department: Fisheries & Wildlife
E-mail: jordan41@msu.edu

Christopher Jordan has a B.A. in Spanish and Latin American Studies and a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. For his Ph.D. research he is looking at the social networks formed through traditional forest ecosystem knowledge sharing and use along the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua. In particular, he is exploring the types of network configurations that encourage increased forest conservation and negative attitudes toward deforestation and forest degradation. His work has a large component on forest wildlife and he is a member of the IUCN Tapir Specialist Group.

 

Jennifer Kelly Jennifer Kelly
Department: Sociology
E-mail: kellyj24@msu.edu

Jennifer Rebecca Kelly studies environmental sociology focusing on the relationship that humans have with the living world. With an interdisciplinary background her scholarship and views on the nature society divide have embraced a holistic approach. As such, her interests have taken on an experiential dimension, that is, where nature and wildlife interface most vividly with humans. This is revealed in a broad range of areas from an individual’s encounter with the portrait of a wild animal, to exploring the role of experiential education that is centered on the student immersion into a natural environment, to the hunting of wildlife, a relationship that has been portrayed both as an act of love and kill. More Info

 

Christina Leshko
Department: Department of Sociology
E-mail: cleshko@gmail.com

Christina Leshko graduated from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ with a dual major in Psychology and English. She served as a Program Coordinator on an NSF ADVANCE grant at Rutgers from 2008 to 2011, working to enhance the recruitment and retention of women faculty in the science, math, and engineering disciplines. She is currently a doctoral student in Sociology, specializing in Animal Studies and Environmental Science and Policy. Her research interests include human attitudes toward domestic animals, behavior assessment, evaluation, animal-assisted therapy models, and inter-species relationships. Christina enjoys kayaking, horseback riding, and exploring Michigan with her partner, Chris, and mixed-breed Rottweiler, Lexy. More Info

 

Monica List Monica List
Department: Department of Philosophy
E-mail: listmoni@msu.edu

Monica List is a doctoral student in the Department of Philosophy and is also in the Ecological Food and Farming Systems Specialization. She received her Veterinary Medicine degree from the National University of Costa Rica in 2000. From 2000 to 2005, she was resident veterinarian at the Zoo Ave Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Alajuela, Costa Rica, where her work primarily focused on the rehabilitating small primates and reintroducing them to the wild. From 2006 to 2010, she worked as Regional Veterinary Programs Manager for the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), implementing WSPA’s companion animal welfare and tertiary animal welfare education programs in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. She completed her course-work for the Masters in Bioethics Program at the National University of Costa Rica in 2010, and expects to graduate from that program in May of 2011. Her research interests are animal ethics, the ethics of food and agriculture, environmental ethics, and animal welfare.


Michelle Lute
Department: Department of Fisheries and Wildlife 
E-mail: lutemich@msu.edu

Michelle Lute is a doctoral student in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Michigan State University with a specialization in Animal Studies. She works under the direction of Meredith Gore, as well as the Conservation Ethics Group founders Michael Nelson and John Vucetich. Her research explores the human dimensions and conservation ethics of post-recovery wolf management in Michigan. Michelle studied (non-human) primate behavior and ecology for her MS in Biology from the University of Notre Dame. She worked for the National Park Service and a small NGO after receiving a BS in Environmental Science from Valparaiso University. Broadly, her research interests center on human-wildlife relationships, especially conflict, and the intersection of social, ethical, biological and political dimensions of wildlife management. More Info

 

Samantha Noll
Department: Department of Philosophy
E-mail: nollsama@msu.edu

Samantha Noll is a doctoral student in philosophy with a focus in environmental philosophy, animal metaphysics, and philosophy of agriculture. She is also pursuing the gender, justice, and environmental change (GJEC) specialization in addition to the animal studies specialization. She received her bachelor’s degree from West Chester University in philosophy with minors in anthropology and ethnic studies. Her research interests include epistemology and specifically how we come to know nonhuman others and how nonhuman others are knowers in an attempt to undermine logics of domination that we use to justify the inhumane use of animals. Her work also focuses on the ethics of agriculture and food systems. She was active in community supported agriculture projects in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.


Kelly O'Brien
Department: Sociology
E-mail: obrien74@msu.edu

Kelly O'Brien received her B.A. in Pyschology from MSU in 2006. After finishing her undergraduate studies, she became a certified instructor through the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH). After managing and training horses at a PATH Premier Accredited Center in Nashville for four years, she reentered MSU to pursue a Masters in Social Work. Kelly's principal research interest is the use and welfare of equines in a therapeutic setting.

 

Heather Pospisil
Department: Sociology
E-mail: h_pospisil [at] yahoo [dot] com

Heather Pospisil is a doctoral student in sociology, specializing in animal studies and environmental science and policy. She is especially interested in areas of human-wildlife conflict and the effect of wildlife rehabilitation centers upon public perceptions of wildlife. Her central themes are voice and power. Heather's master's degree in environmental philosophy focused on animal ethics, feminist methodologies, and construction of knowledge(s). She has worked with other animal individuals at zoos, sanctuaries, and wildlife rehabilitation and rescue centers, and is a member of the emergency response team for International Bird Rescue, an organization that responds to wildlife crises from oil spills worldwide. She has a special love for swans, seabirds, raptors, and corvids.

 

Stacey Rule Stacy Rule
Department: American Studies Program
E-mail: flaher30@msu.edu

Stacy Rule is a doctoral candidate in American Studies at MSU. She earned her B.A. in English at Binghamton University and graduated from Hofstra University with an M.A. in English and Creative Writing. Her principal research interests are animal studies, ecocriticism, American literature and cultural studies, and she is a member of the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment.

 

Amy Shelle
Department: Social Work
E-mail: shelleam@msu.edu

Amy Shelle is currently a masters of Social Work student.  She received her associates’ degree in 1996 and her B.S. degree in Animal Science in 1999, both from MSU.  During that time she was a member of the Animal Behavior and Welfare Group. The research she completed then consisted of developing non-invasive techniques to monitor stress in animals.  Horses, pigs, cows, mink, snow leopards and tigers were her species of interest.  She was also involved with many research projects that were carried out in the Animal Behavior lab at and thus she has co-authored many papers. Currently she would like to research and help promote animal assisted therapy with individuals dealing with PTSD and other types of trauma. 

 

Molly Tamulevich Molly Tamulevich
Department: Community, Agriculture, Recreation & Resource Studies
E-mail: tamulev1@msu.edu

Molly Tamulevich received her B.A in anthropology with a minor in biology from Bryn Mawr College in 2007. She is pursuing her Master's degree in Community, Agriculture, Recreation & Resource Studies where she is studying the social status that people receive from their companion animals and how purchasing or adopting an animal based on perceived social value can lead to pet overpopulation and violence. Her interests include pit bull welfare, vegan cooking, volunteering for a variety of animal welfare organizations and spending time with her guinea pigs, Jambi and Paul.

 

Stephen Vrla
Department: Sociology
E-mail: stephenvrla@gmail.com

Stephen Vrla is a doctoral student in Sociology, Animal Studies, and Environmental Science and Policy. He graduated from Williams College in 2010, where he majored in History. After graduating, he worked as a field instructor at a wilderness therapy program in Utah and as an English, environmental studies, and social studies teacher at a boarding school for low-income students in Texas. Through this work, he became interested in the role schools play in students' moral development, particularly their attitudes toward animals and the environment. At MSU, he plans on pursuing this line of research as well as more general inquiries into humans' relationships with domestic, liminal, and wild animals. Stephen's work is inspired by Hermes, his canine counterpart, and by the stray or injured animals he has been unable to rescue.

 

Ian Werkheiser
Department: Philosophy
E-mail: werkhei1@msu.edu



Ian Werkheiser is a doctoral student in the Department of Philosophy, with specializations in both Animal Studies and Gender, Justice, and Environmental Change. He received his BA in History from the University of Washington before teaching English as a Second Language abroad while doing research for his Master’s degree. He returned to California to finish his MA in Humanities with a focus on Philosophy from California State University Dominguez Hills. His principle research interests are epistemological relationships between knower and known, and how these affect our conceptions and treatment of others, with a particular emphasis on our relationships with the environment and non-human animals. More Info

 

Cameron Whitley Cameron Whitley
Department: Sociology
E-mail: cwhitley@msu.edu

Cameron Thomas Whitley grew up in Colorado and graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2005 with a degree in Sociology and a minor in Ethnic Studies. Between graduating in 2005 and entering MSU in the fall of 2009, Cameron spent time engaged in HIV/AIDS prevention and education in the Virgin Islands and working as a financial officer in New York City. Cameron’s past research has focused largely on the intersections of sex, gender and sexuality; however his current interests are in environmental sociology, specifically regarding social attitudes around climate change, water quality and conservation, social movements and the social and political positioning of animals for corporate gain. When not engaged in research, Cameron enjoys being outdoors, photography, daily yoga, exploratory creative writing, social activism, chai tea lattes, and traveling around the world with his wife and twelve year old yorkie named Pal.


Students Who Have Completed MSU Graduate Degrees with a Specialization in Animal Studies

 

Ashley Couch Ashley Couch
Department: Community, Agriculture, Recreation & Resource Studies
E-mail: couchash@msu.edu

Ashley Couch graduates in Spring 2013 with a Master's Degree from the Community, Agriculture, Recreation, and Resource studies (CARRS) department. Ashley obtained her bachelor’s degree in zoology from MSU in 2007. She currently works for the university in a veterinary toxicology lab at the Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health. Ashley is interested in zoo animal welfare which stemmed from volunteer and intern work at the Indianapolis Zoo. Her Master's Thesis examined zoo animal welfare and visitors' satisfaction with animal visibility.

 

Maggie Fitzpatrick Maggie Fitzpatrick
Department: Community, Agriculture, Recreation & Resource Studies
E-mail: mfitzpatrick05@gmail.com

A native of Cleveland Ohio, Maggie Fitzpatrick graduated John Carroll University, a small Jesuit university on the Eastside of Cleveland, with a B.S. in Biology and a Concentration in Environmental Studies. Through environmental studies, she found an interest in sustainable food and agriculture and went on to complete two farm internships, one in South Western Vermont and one in Dayton, Ohio where she gained cultivation skills and experience as an educator but began to reflect on previous distance from food production as an urban dweller and how my life can be enriched through participation in food cultivation. She completed an M.S. degree with a specialization in Animal Studies in the department of Community, Agriculture, Resource and Recreation Studies (CARRS). Her research interest is the return of small livestock, mainly chicken, to backyards and urban areas through the urban agriculture movement.

Photo: Maggie getting her hands dirty in Aullwood's Edible Garden in Dayton Ohio.

 

Dr. Ryan Gunderson
Department: Sociology
E-mail: rgunder@msu.edu

Ryan Gunderson earned his PhD in Sociology with a Specialization in Animal Studies and Environmental Science & Policy in May 2014. He received his M.A. at the University of Wyoming in 2011 where he researched the social, environmental, and animal welfare consequences of intensive, mechanized, large-scale livestock production from a Marxist perspective. Currently he is excavating social-ecological insights from the Frankfurt School to address theoretical issues in environmental sociology and animal studies, among other projects. His research interests broadly include environmental sociology, social theory, animal studies, and political economy. Ryan has published in Critical Sociology , Organization & Environment , Sociologia Ruralis, Telos, and other journals (see the Recent Publications page). More Info

 

Dr. Maria Iliopoulou
Department: Community Sustainability
E-mail: iliopoul@msu.edu

Maria Iliopoulou earned her PhD in Community Sustainability with a Specialization in Animal Studies in May 2014. Her areas of interests include finding ways to intervene in the social problem of dogfighting, and her dissertation focused on the link between children's perceptions of dogfighting and their level of canine care and welfare knowledge. Maria has also earned her DVM from the MSU School of Veterinary Medicine.

 

Rachel Kelly Rachel Kelly
Department: Community, Agriculture, Recreation & Resource Studies
E-mail: kellyra2@msu.edu

Rachel Kelly completed her Master's degree with a specialization in Animal Studies in the department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies, where her focal area is community food and agriculture. She completed her B.S. in agricultural science with a specialization in animal science at Truman State University. Rachel is interested in various issues surrounding the feeding of species-appropriate diets (bones and raw food diets) to companion animals. She recently completed a summer internship at Sanctuary And Safe Haven for Animals (SASHA), a farm sanctuary in Manchester, MI, for unwanted and/or neglected farm and companion animals, and now volunteers there once a week. Rachel lives with her six year old great dane, Cody, and her newest addition, a ten year old terrier mix named Sally.

 

Melissa Liszewski Melissa Liszewski
Department: Animal Sciences
E-mail: mel.liszewski@gmail.com

Melissa Liszewski completed her B.S. in Animal Science at MSU in 2008, with a specialization in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. She completed her Master of Science degree with a specialization in Animal Studies in the Department of Animal Science, where she was part of the Animal Behavior and Welfare Group. Her work also included completing an additional graduate specialization in International Development from The Center for Advanced Study of International Development (CASID). She was recently awarded a Marshall Plan Foundation Scholarship to complete coursework and research in Vienna, Austria, where she evaluated a federally funded animal welfare education program. In 2006, Melissa traveled to SE Brazil for work on an undergraduate project aimed at improving the welfare of working equines. Since this experience she has maintained a strong passion and commitment to finding ways to improve the lives of animals in lesser developed areas of the world, and subsequently the lives of the people depending on them as well. Melissa's other research interests include human-animal relationships and using participatory, livelihood, and community-based approaches to address animal welfare issues in developing countries.

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