Graduate Students in the Animal Studies Program
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Jessica Bell is a Ph.D. student in Sociology, specializing in Animal Studies, Environmental Science and Policy, and Conservation Criminology. Jessica’s research interests include scientific representations of animal behavior and mind, the impact of visual and discursive representations of wildlife on conservation, the sociopolitical dynamics of conservation initiatives, and conservation crime (e.g. wildlife poaching). Her upcoming publications include a book chapter on wolf reintroduction (in A Fairytale in Question: Historical Interactions Between Humans and Wolves, 2015, White Horse Press), an article on the conservation claims and repercussions of circuses (in press at Society & Animals) and a book chapter on elephant tourism and the ivory trade in Thailand (in Conservation Criminology: The Nexus of Crime, Risk and Natural Resources, 2015, Wiley-Blackwell). She has presented her work at numerous international conferences, including the International Society of Anthrozoology, the American Sociological Association, the International Wolf Symposium, and the Australian Animal Studies Group.
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.
Jeanette Eckert is a doctoral student in Geography, focusing on urban geography and planning. Her previous education at the University of Toledo includes a B.A. and M.A. in Geography, as well as a B.S. in Environmental Science with a concentration in ecology. Her research is framed by theories of social and environmental justice, and how the built environment can create barriers or opportunities for urban residents. She focuses primarily on postindustrial Rust Belt cities. She is interested in equitable local food systems and access to healthy food in urban areas. In addition to researching inequality between humans, she also includes nonhuman animals in her focus on ethics. She is interested in human interactions with and attitudes toward animals, especially with regard to animals killed for food or used in entertainment, as well as urban residents’ responses to wildlife and homeless companion animals. Jeanette believes that humane education is an important tool for reducing intentional and unintentional harm to animals, and would like to learn more about the mechanisms by which human attitudes toward animals are shaped and reshaped. Inspired by her mother, she has been helping animals throughout her life and currently shares her home with several rescued animals.
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.
Department: Community Sustainability
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Kelly O'Brien is a doctoral student in Sociology. She earned an MSW with a Specialization in Animal Studies from MSU in May 2014. She 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
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.
Department: American Studies Program
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.
Department: Social Work
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.
Departments: Sociology and Teacher Education
Stephen Vrla is a PhD student in Sociology, Teacher Education, 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 disadvantaged 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 is a PhD candidate in the philosophy department at Michigan State University, and he will graduate with specializations in Animal Studies as well as Environmental Philosophy and Ethics. His research interests include environmental ethics, environmental and food justice, food sovereignty, and social epistemology. He coordinates the Food Justice and Sovereignty Work Group for MSU’s Center for Regional Food Systems, and works as a Graduate Assistant for the Sustainable Michigan Endowed Projects, a Kellogg-funded foundation devoted to promoting research into sustainability in Michigan. Ian has engaged in research into sustainability values and practices of small-scale, direct-marketing farmers in Michigan through the Kellogg Biological Station’s NSF-Supported Long-Term Ecological Research, and is currently working with La Via Campesina on a project looking at barriers to women’s participation in the food sovereignty movement. With two other graduate students, he co-created and organizes Food Justice and Peace, a transdisciplinary conference on food justice. He has also worked on organizing several major non-academic conferences, including Everybody Eats: Cultivating Food Democracy, a community-based conference on Michigan food issues; and the Michigan Environmental Justice Statewide Summit, which bring together stakeholders, policy makers, academics, and activists from around Michigan and beyond to work on developing collective capacity across society, research, and policy to address issues of food democracy and environmental justice. His dissertation focuses on the capabilities approach and food sovereignty, and will argue that community epistemic capacity is a necessary requirement of meaningful political participation, particularly in issues around food and environmental justice.
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.
Former Graduate Students Who Have Earned Specializations in Animal Studies
Department: Community, Agriculture, Recreation & Resource Studies
Ashley Couch earned a MS in Community, Agriculture, Recreation, and Resource Studies with a Specialization in Animal Studies in Spring 2013. Her masters thesis examined zoo animal welfare and visitors' satisfaction with animal visibility. She worked in a veterinary toxicology lab at the Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health. She is interested in zoo animal welfare which stemmed from volunteer and intern work at the Indianapolis Zoo. Ashley earned a BS in Zoology from MSU in 2007.
Department: Community, Agriculture, Recreation & Resource Studies
Maggie Fitzpatrick earned an MS in Community, Agriculture, Recreation, and Resource Studies with a Specialization in Animal Studies. Her research interest is the return of small livestock, mainly chicken, to backyards and urban areas through the urban agriculture movement. She earned a BS in Biology with a Concentration in Environmental Studies from John Carroll University, a small Jesuit university on the Eastside of Cleveland. 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 is a native of Cleveland, Ohio.
Ryan Gunderson earned a PhD in Sociology with a Specialization in Animal Studies and Environmental Science & Policy in May 2014. He is currently a fixed-term Assistant Professor of Sociology at Michigan State University. In Fall 2015, he will begin a tenure-track assistant professor position at Miami University in Ohio, where he will be teaching animal studies courses for the social justice major in the Department of Sociology and Gerontology. His dissertation excavated social-ecological insights from the Frankfurt School to address theoretical issues in environmental sociology and animal studies. He received his MA 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. 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.
|Maria Iliopoulou, DVM, PhD
Department: Community Sustainability
Maria Iliopoulou earned a 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.
|Christopher Jordan, PhD
Department: Fisheries & Wildlife
Christopher Jordan earned a PhD in Fishieries and Wildlife with a Specialization in Animal Studies and is now a postdoctoral scholar at Panthera. His dissertation is on the social networks formed through traditional forest ecosystem knowledge sharing and use along the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua. In particular, he explored 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. Christopher earned a BA in Spanish and Latin American Studies and a BS. in Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.
Department: Community, Agriculture, Recreation & Resource Studies
Rachel Kelly earned an MA in Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies with a Specialization in Animal Studies. Her focal area is community food and agriculture. She completed her BS 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.
Department: Animal Sciences
Melissa Liszewski earned an MS in Animal Science with a Specialization in Animal Studies. She was a member 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. Melissa earned a BS in Animal Science with Specializations in Latin American and Caribbean Studies from MSU in 2008. In 2006, she 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.
Department: Community, Agriculture, Recreation & Resource Studies
Molly Tamulevich earned an MS in Community Sustainability with a Specialization in Animal Studies in December 2014 and is now a program consultant at the Animals & Society Institute. Her masters thesis is on 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. Molly earned a BA in Anthropology with a Minor in Biology from Bryn Mawr College in 2007. 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