Symposium Speakers 2022

Anindita Bhadra (Indian Institute of Science Education & Research Kolkata)

Dr. Anindita Bhadra is a behavioural biologist at the Department of Biological Sciences, IISER Kolkata. She founded the Dog Lab at IISER Kolkata, which is engaged in studying the behaviour, ecology and cognitive abilities of dogs using the free-ranging /stray dogs in India as a model system. She is particularly interested in understanding the evolution of the dog-human relationship. Much of her work on free-ranging dogs has been highlighted by the scientific and public media. Dr. Bhadra is the recipient of the INSA young scientist award, SERB women excellence award, IAP young scientist award and the Janaki Ammal National Women Bioscientist award Young category. She was involved in the founding of the Indian National Young Academy of Science (INYAS) in 2014, and was the Chairperson of INYAS during its first three years of existence. She has been a member of the Global Young Academy since 2016, where she was a Co-Chair during 2020-21. Anindita believes in the responsibility of a scientist in engaging with the society and is actively engaged in various science outreach activities, including popular science writing in both English and Bangla. She is currently the Associate Dean of International Relations and Outreach at IISER Kolkata. A mother of two, she is also a professional thespian and leads the Bangla theatre group mukhOsh with her husband..

Nancy Gee (Virginia Commonwealth University)

Nancy R. Gee, PhD, is Professor of Psychiatry, Bill Balaban Chair in Human Animal Interaction, and the Director of the Center for Human Animal Interaction at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, USA. The Center is uniquely situated in the School of Medicine and in addition to research and educational activities it also houses the “Dogs on Call” therapy dog program, which includes 90+ dog/handler teams who visit patients and staff throughout the VCU health system.

Dr. Gee, President-Elect of the International Society for Anthrozoology, has extensive research and teaching experience and has specialized in the area of Human Animal Interaction (HAI) for the past 17 years. She served for five years as the HAI Research Manager for the Waltham Petcare Science Institute, located in Leicestershire, UK. In this role she managed a large portfolio of collaborative university-based research projects spanning multiple countries and topics, including; how companion animals impact the lives of older adults, or help students learn, or reduce the impact of PTSD symptoms in military veterans. Dr. Gee’s own program of research has focused primarily on the impact of dogs on aspects of human cognition, including working memory, executive functioning and physiological responses such as heart rate variability to interactions with dogs. Currently she is focusing on how hospital-based therapy dog visitation programs may impact loneliness and other health related indices in vulnerable populations such as older adults and people with mental illness.

A recipient of multiple grants and awards, Dr. Gee has more than 50 peer reviewed publications specific to HAI and has edited and contributed to numerous books on the subject. Dr. Gee regularly delivers international presentations on a variety of HAI topics, serves on the editorial review boards of several peer reviewed journals and has actively promoted the field of HAI through participation on the boards of several HAI organizations including the International Society for Anthrozoology and Pet Partners.

Brian Hare (Duke University)

Dr. Brian Hare is a core member of the Center of Cognitive Neuroscience, a Professor in Evolutionary Anthropology, and Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University. Hare is the Director of the Duke Canine Cognition Center and has published over 100 scientific papers. Hare’s first book with co-author Vanessa Woods, The Genius of Dogs is a New York Times Bestseller.

Jeffrey Katz (Auburn University)

Dr. Katz’s research focuses on the comparative mechanisms of learning and cognition. Ongoing projects involve behavioral and functional neuroimaging methods to investigate dog-human attachment, concept learning, observational drawing, and the behavioral and neural correlates of working dogs. He is currently the Michael and Leann Morsani Rowe Endowed Professor in the College of Liberal Arts. He is an Associate Editor for Animal Cognition. He has been honored with the APA's Division 3 (Experimental Psychology) 2001 Young Investigator Award, Psi Chi Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (2001-2002, 2012-2013), CLA Early Career Teaching Award (2004-2005), APA Fellow Division 3, Experimental Psychology (2007) and Division 6, Behavioral Neuroscience and Comparative Psychology (2008), an Auburn University Alumni Professorship (2006-2011), inducted into the CLA Academy of Teaching and Outstanding Teachers (2012), Gerald and Emily Leischuck Endowed Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching (2015), and Honors College Professor of the Year, Auburn University (2016).  He served as the secretary and president of the International Comparative Cognition Society and received the Comparative Cognition Society Recognition of Service Award (2014). He has a history of teaching and research grants from DARPA, DOD, NEA, NIH, and NSF.

Shelby McDonald (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)

Shelby E. McDonald, PhD, is Director of Research in the Department of Strategy and Research at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Prior to joining the ASPCA she was employed as a tenured Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she also served as a core faculty member at the Clark-Hill Institute for Positive Youth Development, a CDC-funded research center for violence prevention. To date, Dr. McDonald’s research has centered on the role of the human-animal bond in human health and wellbeing, particularly during the developmental periods of childhood and emerging adulthood. Dr. McDonald’s research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Human-Animal Bond Research Initiative. She has published more than 50 peer-reviewed articles and several book chapters on topics including the intersection of family violence and animal cruelty and the role of pets in coping with victimization and minority stress (i.e., LGBTQIA+ and Latinx communities). Dr. McDonald is a Fellow of the Oxford University Centre for Animal Ethics.

Patricia Pendry (Washington State University)

Dr. Patricia Pendry is an Associate Professor of Human Development and Graduate faculty member in the Prevention Science Program at Washington State University in Pullman, WA. Applying a biobehavioral perspective, she conducts randomized controlled trials in real-life settings to determine the effects of animal assisted interventions (AAI) on individuals’ physiological and affective regulation associated with mental health and academic success. Drawing from literatures from human development, psychoneuroendocrinology, anthrozoology, prevention science, and animal behavior, outcomes of interest are the basal, diurnal and momentary activity of the Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal (HPA) axis, executive function and moment-to-moment emotion states of humans. In addition to understanding for whom and under what conditions incorporating Human Animal Interactions (HAI) can enhance the efficacy of stress-prevention programs, her work examines the active components and mechanisms that facilitate treatment effects, including the quality of dyadic and triadic behavior of animals, their handlers and AAI clients during AAIs. Her educational background includes a B.Phil. in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Child Development and Social Policy from Northwestern University, IL. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in Research Methods, Stress and Coping, Child Development, and Policy Issues in Human Development. Born and raised in the Netherlands, she is a life-long equestrian and animal lover. She lives ‘in the country’, raises 4 children, dogs, horses, cats, and chickens, and occasionally sheep.

Friederike Range (University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna)

Friederike Range studied biology at the University of Bayreuth, Germany (1992-1998). Continuing her research on the monkeys in West Afrika, she did a PhD at the University of Pennsylvania, USA. In 2004 she returned to Europe engaging in postdoctoral research at the University of Vienna, where she started to investigate canine behaviour and cognition. In 2007, she was one of the founders of the Clever Dog Lab ( and 2008 of the Wolf Science Center (Wolf Science Center). Since September 2011 she has been employed at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna. Since 2019 she is an Associate Prof heading the Domestication Lab.

Her research in the past years focussed mainly on the effects of domestication by studying wolves and dogs. Particularly she is interested in understanding the proximate mechanisms underlying cooperation and the factors that might influence social relationships within and across species (e.g. human-animal relationship). In recent years, fieldwork has caught up again and she and her team have started to expand their research to free-ranging populations of wolves and dogs to understand also how their socio-ecology might shape these skills.