Meet the Team


HAI Lab Director

MoniqueBiggerDr. Monique Udell, PhD

Monique 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.


GiovannaGiovanna Rosenlicht, DVM

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



Shelby Wanser, M.S.
Email: shelby.wanser [at]

Shelby is 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.

Recent Graduate Students and Postdocs

Kristyn (Shreve) Vitale, PhD 

Kristyn 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.


LaurenandFezzikLauren 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 consultant at Pet Parenting Consultants and an academic counselor at Oregon State University. 


Lauren ThielkeLauren Thielke, M.S. 
thielkel [at]

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.


Undergraduate Students 

Alexandra Behnke

Alexandra is a junior majoring in Animal Science with the pre-veterinary option. Following completion of her undergraduate studies, she plans to attend veterinary school and become a veterinary surgeon. For her Honors Thesis, Alex is researching feline scent attachment and olfactory cognition.  In her free time, Alex enjoys reading, learning, and playing with her dog Sansa.


Nicole Sipple

Nicole is a second year undergraduate majoring in Animal Sciences with a pre-veterinary option and minor in Spanish. She is currently assisting Lauren Thielke in her research on Dog-Dog attachment as well as assisting other project leaders as an RA. Nicole is excited to learn and understand more about the complex behaviors of both cats and dogs. In her free time, she likes to go on hikes with her dog, and hang out with friends and family.


Jessie Tussing

Jessie Tussing is a non-traditional student studying Animal Science with a focus on Animal Behavior. She has 10 years experience as an equine and canine rehabilitative foster home. Preceded by 13 years as a rider and apprentice trainer of various disciplines of show horses.

When she is not studying she is taking her daughter to softball games, entertaining their five rescue dogs, and remodeling homes with her life and business partner, Darrell. She hopes to use her education to improve the outcomes for the animals she encounters as well as their people.


Affiliated & Previous Students 

ABS Wolf1

Rachel Webber


Erika Nivens

Maddy Greathouse

Maddy Greathouse



Kelsey Longrie

Kelsey Longrie

Stephanie Scavelli

Stephanie Scavelli

Jennifer Gibson

Jennifer Gibson


Veronica Martin


Ashley Carlberg



Courtney Kutzler



Hadley Schoderbek

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