Meet the Team

HAI Lab Director

Monique Udell, PhD

Dr. Udell is an Associate Professor of Animal Sciences at Oregon State University, where she teaches courses and conducts research on animal behavior, cognition and human animal interactions.

In 2006, while earning her MS and PhD in Psychology at the University of Florida, she co-founded the Canine Cognition and Behavior Lab with Dr. Clive D. L. Wynne. After earning her doctorate she held faculty positions at Flagler College and University of Oregon, before arriving at Oregon State University in 2013.

Her current work focuses on the development of cross-species interactions and bonds in both wild and domesticated animals, and the impact that these bonds have on the behavior and success of both species. This includes research on human-animal attachment, the influence of social enrichment and training on welfare, and mutually beneficial approaches to animal assisted interventions. She has a special interest in the social development and behavior of cats, dogs and wolves, however she has also studied the behavior of a variety of other animals including horses, pigs, sheep, and bats.

Affiliated Faculty

Giovanna Rosenlicht, DVM


Dr. Rosenlicht is investigating canine oxytocin receptor genotypes and potential application for use in prediction of affiliative and aggressive behaviors.

Kristyn (Shreve) Vitale, PhD 


Dr. Vitale is currently an Assistant Professor of Animal Health and Behavior at Unity College. Previously, she was a Maddie’s Postdoctoral Scholar and a Faculty Research Assistant in the Human-Animal Interaction Lab. Kristyn received her PhD in Animal Science from Oregon State University. Her dissertation work within the Human-Animal Interaction Lab examined cat social cognition and the influence of kitten training and socialization classes on the human-cat bond. Additionally, she received a Master’s of Environmental Science from Miami University where her thesis examined social behaviors between free-roaming colony cats. She also served as a Visiting Research Fellow at Kyoto University in Japan where she conducted cross-cultural research into the cat-human bond. Her research has been internationally featured in media outlets such as National Geographic, Science Magazine, The Washington Post, The New York Times, PBS NOVAScientific American, Time, and The Times of London. Her work has also been featured in film documentaries such as How the Cat Conquered the World and the Netflix film Inside the Mind of a Cat. 

Postdoctoral Scholar

Saethra Darling, PhD (she/her/hers)


Dr. Darling is a postdoctoral scholar at Oregon State University. She is the project manager for our “Do As I Do” family dog animal-assisted-intervention research project, in collaboration with the Children & Youth with Disabilities Lab.

Graduate Students

Amanda Puitiza

Amanda is a Peruvian American student interested in problem solving, sociality, individual variation, and human-animal interactions. She is also interested in cross-disciplinary research and collaborating with other researchers.

Cemal Koktas

Lab Manager

Hallie Shean

Hallie is a junior majoring in biology with a minor in chemistry. She is currently working on her thesis with the Human-Animal Interaction Lab and serving as Lab Manager. She is researching the human-pet attachment during the pandemic and whether the attachment styles have changed. This is her third year as a research assistant with previous experience coding different attachment tests and assisting with secure attachment testing. After finishing her undergraduate degree she plans to attend graduate school to study animal behavior or veterinary medicine. When she isn’t in the lab she can be found traveling, hiking, or playing with her dog, Kia.

Undergraduate Lab Members

Brianna Rubio (she/her)

Brianna is a junior at OSU majoring in animal behavior and minoring in psychology. Her interests include working with companion animals. She has also worked with elephants in the past, which she greatly enjoyed. She is considering careers in animal training, specifically with an interest in service animals, and overall learning of the mechanisms behind animal behavior and learning. 

Ollie and me pic

Izabelle Robinson

Izabelle is currently studying Honors Biology with the Pre-vet option, and is minoring in Psychology and Chemistry. After completing her undergraduate degree, Izabelle plans to attend Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine here at OSU. Izabelle is interested in mixed animal veterinary medicine, and is considering specializing in acupuncture. In her free time Izabelle likes to go on hikes with her dog Ollie, volunteer at her local cat shelter, and spend time with her horse Comet.

Mae Trice

Mae Trice is a second-year student who is assisting with research surrounding human-pet attachment bonds during the pandemic. She is also preparing to begin the undergraduate thesis process in the Human-Animal Interaction lab. Outside of the lab, she loves to curl up with a good book, volunteer at the local animal shelter, and grab food with friends.


Emma DeFreeuw

Emma is a third year at OSU studying Honors Animal Science with options in Pre-Vet and Animal Behavior, and is minoring in Chemistry and Psychology. Outside of school, she works at the Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine as the Assistant in the Student Teaching lab. She plans on attending the Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine after completing her undergrad. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her pet rabbit, S’more, cooking, and different art projects. 

Margaret Zackary

Margaret graduated from Oregon State University in 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in Zoology and a minor in Chemistry, and plans to return for her master’s degree. She spent a lot of time helping the OSU Sheep Research Center with lambing, and is working with the Human-Animal Interaction Lab on a sheep socialization and thermal imaging project. In her spare time, she is working at an equestrian center, making art, or spending time with her pet hissing cockroaches.


Chloe Kuhlmann

Chloe is a second year student at the OSU Honors College majoring in Animal Sciences with the pre-vet option. She hopes to attend veterinary school after graduating from OSU. Within the Human-Animal Interaction lab she is researching how the responsibility a child has for their dog impacts the relationship they have with their dog. Outside of school, Chloe enjoys being involved with church, baking and gardening, and spending time with her family and animals. 

Jay Koontz

Jay is a third-year honors student in Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Sciences. After graduation, they plan on pursuing a career working at a primate sanctuary. Jay likes to volunteer at the animal shelter and spend time with their two cats and bearded dragon in their free time. Jay’s thesis research is focused on the how elephant/keeper relationships impacts elephant social behavior.

Recent Graduate Students and Postdocs

Lauren Brubaker, PhD 

Lauren earned her PhD in behavioral sciences from the Human-Animal Interaction Lab at Oregon State University in 2019. She completed her bachelor’s degree at Utah State University in Animal, Dairy, and Veterinary Sciences and a minor in Psychology. While at USU, she worked in the behavior analysis research lab studying relapse behavior. In 2016, she received her master’s degree from OSU with an emphasis in applied animal behavior and social psychology. While obtaining her MS degree her research revolved around the problem solving, persistence, therapy practices, social cognition, and factors that affect the success of working human-animal pairs (such as canine search and rescue). Her PhD work also focused on studying professional human-animal programs, and she worked to understand human behavior and human-animal interactions using psychometrics and developmental psychology. Her research with the HAI lab has involved collaborations with researchers and participants around the world and has gained the attention of several media outlets, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters, and NPR. She has an interest in studying how humans and non-human animals behave and interact, and what factors influence the behavior and success of individuals in applied contexts. Lauren currently works as a behavior scientist for the United States government.


Lauren Thielke, M.S. 

Lauren earned her PhD in behavioral sciences from the Human-Animal Interaction Lab at Oregon State University in 2019.  She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Zoology. Her research interests include human-animal interactions and dog behavior, particularly with regard to different factors that contribute to the development of behavioral problems in dogs.

Lindsay Mehrkam, PhD, BCBA-D

Lindsay was a postdoctoral scholar in the Human-Animal Interaction Lab at Oregon State University. Lindsay received her Bachelors in Animal Behavior from Franklin & Marshall College, and her Masters and PhD in Psychology/Behavior Analysis from the University of Florida. Her research examines how the environment affects play behavior in dogs, wolves and wolf-dog “hybrids” and how human interaction influences the welfare of companion and exotic animals. She has also published several studies on the benefits of human-animal interaction, enrichment and applied behavior analysis in evaluations for improving the welfare of a wide range of species in captivity. She currently works as an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Monmouth University.

Shelby Wanser, M.S.

Shelby was a Faculty Research Assistant in the Human Animal Interaction Lab and a leader on the DAID Animal Assisted Intervention Project for children with and without developmental disabilities and their family dog. Shelby also completed their undergraduate and MS studies at OSU, receiving an Honors Bachelor of Science in Animal Sciences in 2015. Shelby has a strong interest in animal behavior particularly as it relates to training and other human-animal interactions. They have been training dogs in dog agility since childhood, and they have since garnered experience training a wide variety of species in a variety of fields including the film-industry and in animal-assisted therapy. Shelby’s present research focuses on canine-assisted therapeutic interventions for youth with developmental disabilities and their career aspirations include animal-facilitated psychotherapy work with youth. Their other research interests include attachment, synchronization, cognition, and development, especially with dogs and wolves as well as other species.

Affiliated & Previous Students 

Not Pictured:

  • Megan Hughes
  • Max Chang
  • Kimberly Goertzen
  • Bridget Regan
  • Eric Tam