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Jessica Dawson

Jess joined the ARG as an Honours student in 2015 and commenced her PhD in 2017. Whilst her interests broadly encompass all things anthrozoology, Jess’ current research area concerns companion dog breeding practices. In particular, she is interested in the role that early experiences have on adult dog behaviour and the subsequent dog-owner relationship outcomes.

Deanna Tepper

Deanna joined ARG in 2017, with her earlier work exploring the benefits of therapy dog programs in schools. Her PhD explores methods of improving children’s executive functions, including working memory, inhibition, and cognitive flexibility. Deanna is interested in whether such skills can be improved in the household environment, and whether interacting with pets provides an opportunity to do so.

Maike Foraita

Maike joined the ARG in February 2019 as an international PhD student from Germany. Maike’s PhD project looks at executive functions in dogs, especially inhibition, working memory and cognitive flexibility. Maike’s project is investigating what influences shape executive function in dogs, how we can assess executive functions in dogs, and what role executive functions play in dogs’ success in working as well as pet roles.

Sonya McDowall

Sonya McDowall is a PhD candidate exploring the relationship between Social Determinants of Health (SDH) and companion animal welfare. She proposes an integrated framework that considers the interconnections between the SDH and domains of animal welfare to improve outcomes for companion animals, their guardians, and the community.

Angela Chapman

Angela joined the ARG in 2023 when she began her PhD. Her research builds on her background in veterinary nursing and management and aims to understand the workplace contributors to burnout in veterinary nurses. Angela hopes to develop management strategies to reduce the risk of burnout in veterinary nurses, and improve their mental health, and the welfare of their patients.


La Trobe University is a public research university based in Victoria, Australia. Established in 1964, La Trobe University now accommodates over 36,000 students and operates across regional and rural campuses.