Anthrozoology as International Practice working group

The Anthrozoology as International Practice working group was founded in 2021 by a group of established scholars, early career academics, and postgraduate students living in four different countries. Thanks to hosting provided by the University of Exeter’s EASE working group, AIP was able to present two anthrozoology conferences (2021 and 2022) aimed at students from undergraduate to postdoctoral levels. The working has since expanded to include numerous aims including:

      Offering opportunities for collaborative writing, through online meetings where members can share ideas or discuss topics of interest

      Offering opportunities for collaborative conference planning and presentations

       Offering mentoring and peer-support for students and early career researchers in anthrozoology and related fields (what is anthrozoology? See this link:

      Supporting advocacy which supports animal health and welfare (humans included)

      Supporting the approach that otherthanhuman animals are ethically significant beings worthy of consideration as equal subjects (not objects) in research

      Supporting and promoting research including but not limited to: education, awareness, and conservation practices which view otherthanhuman animals as equal partners in the creation of meaning, as well as morally significant participants in research

      Offering opportunities for informal writing (blogs, columns) on a variety of platforms

Meet the AIP Founders

Sarah Oxley Heaney, PhD candidate (Anthrozoology)

Sarah is a fourth year (PT) Anthrozoology PhD candidate with the University of Exeter and has based her doctoral project ‘Kissing Sharks’ on examining unique, intimate shark-human interactions utilizing emerging design through grounded theory, trans-species, sensory and scuba-diving ethnographic methodologies. In addition, as an embedded, focussed activist-researcher for abandoned animals, her anthrozoology masters’ research focused upon reasons given for, and factors affecting, abandoned cats in Saudi Arabia.

Sarah is a co-founder of The Anthrozoology Podcast and Anthrozoology Speaks and the founder of a volunteer animal rescue group (now official charity) in Saudi Arabia and their work, which focuses upon abandoned, street-living animals, can be found on social media: @tabukpaws. Her shark-human interaction research can be followed at, which also displays links to her publications and conference presentations. An early career researcher now based in Portugal, Sarah is motivated to use her academic investigations to add to the human-animal de-centering ‘turns’ pioneered by post-humanist scholars. Sarah can be contacted at

Sarah with her research participants

Kris Hill, PhD (Plant Molecular Biology), PhD (Anthrozoology)

Kris is a PhD researcher enrolled with the University of Exeter, UK and a member of the Exeter Anthrozoology as Symbiotic Ethics (EASE) working group. Her doctoral research focuses on cat-human relations within urban communities, and discourses surrounding free-roaming and free-living cats (F. catus). Kris started her adult life working within the equestrian industry, having left home and school at age 16 with no formal qualifications. She returned to education in her mid 20’s and went on to complete a PhD in Plant Physiology and Molecular Biology from the University of Kentucky, USA. As a scientist she has contributed to 26 peer-reviewed publications on the subject of plant development.  

Kris currently lives in Berlin, Germany, and is working on her second PhD while building the foundations of a new career – either as an academic, an educator, or a researcher within a non-profit organization, dedicated to improving the lives of animals (including the humans who care for other animals). In 2018 she graduated from the University of Exeter with an MA in Anthrozoology, which she completed via distance-learning while working fulltime in an unrelated field. Her other research areas of interests include more-than-human families, griefwork, and animal representations.

Kris serves as a volunteer communication officer for the Society for Companion Animal Studies (SCAS), which supports research into the human-companion animal bond and promotes best practices. She is particularly passionate about the issue of companion animals in rental accommodation and sheltered housing and believes no one should be forced to relinquish a beloved companion to avoid homelessness. You can read more about her academic and outreach projects here:

Michelle Szydlowski, PhD (Anthrozoology)

Michelle spent decades teaching in zoos, museums and veterinary technician colleges prior to following her passion into Anthrozoology. Her master’s degree thesis focused on how novel practices in ecotourism impact community-based conservation efforts for rhino and elephant in Nepal. Michelle spent the last seven years teaching avian and reptile medicine, husbandry, behavior, anthrozoology, sheltering, ecology, and conservation in US colleges.

Returning to Asia regularly, Michelle is continuing her work with community-based conservation efforts focused on endangered species preservation, elephant welfare, wildlife health, and sustainable development in the areas surrounding Chitwan and Bardia National Parks in Nepal.  Her PhD research focused on captive elephants in Nepal and examined the health and welfare of these endangered individuals and the members of marginalized communities that care for them.  In addition, Michelle focused on governmental, NGO and INGO programs which purport to help captive elephants, and how their interactions impacted both population-level health and individual elephant lives. This work has extended past the completion of her PhD, and she is now working with several elephant owners and interest groups to create lasting, positive welfare changes for elephants in Nepal.

Michelle serves as the board chair of a non-profit conservation fund focused on supporting community-based initiatives globally. In addition, she serves on the advisory board of a Belgian NGO active with elephant health and welfare within Nepal. She is active in environmental education projects, humane education initiatives, one world/one health programs, and biodiversity preservation. When not teaching, she can be found speaking at conferences or to community groups about her work in Nepal, conservation, neurodiversity, anthrozoology, and other topics. Upcoming projects include a large human-elephant conflict mitigation program and a companion animal study with co-researchers from four countries. Michelle co-hosts The Anthrozoology Podcast and Anthrozoology Speaks, podcast platforms for ongoing discussions about complex species relationships. You can visit Michelle and see her list of publications at or email her at

Jes Hooper, PhD candidate (Anthrozoology)

 Jes Hooper is an Anthrozoology PhD candidate at the University of Exeter and a member of Exeter’s Anthrozoology as Symbiotic Ethics (EASE) working group. Jes’ doctoral research focuses on trans-species relations and disappearance in the Anthropocene as explored through the lens of civet (Viverrid) species. Jes has published several academic works on the topic of human-civet relations including civet coffee production and authentication, civet coffee tourism, the rising phenomenon of civet companionship and Civet Lover communities, and the retribution killings of civets in response to the 2004 outbreak of SARS. Jes has also co-authored several papers on the topics of animals in tourism, animal ethics, and media portrayals of animals during times of crises.

As a part time postgraduate researcher, Jes works as the Campaigns and Research Manager for a small animal charity in the UK and is the founding director of the Civet Project, a research initiative centered upon the aim to better understand human-civet relations. The Civet Project is currently involved in several transdisciplinary and transnational collaborative projects spanning the arts, humanities and biological sciences, and is a leading partner of the Emerging Voices for Animals in Tourism initiative which has thus far culminated in a series of conferences and an edited book of the same name (estimated to be published in 2024).

For more information and for a full portfolio of works, please see or follow Jes on Twitter for academic updates @Jes_Hooper


Tom Aiello, PhD (Anthrozoology), PhD (History and Africana studies)

Thomas Aiello is professor of history and African American studies at Valdosta State University in Georgia, USA. He is the author of more than twenty books and dozens of peer-reviewed journal articles. His work helped amend the Louisiana constitution to make non-unanimous juries illegal and was cited in the United States Supreme Court as part of its decision ruling them unconstitutional. His most recent books are The Life and Times of Louis Lomax: The Art of Deliberate Disunity (Duke, 2021), The Trouble in Room 519: Money, Matricide, and Marginal Fiction in the Early Twentieth Century (LSU, 2021), and The Artistic Activism of Elombe Brath (Mississippi, 2021). He holds PhDs in history and anthrozoology, and he also writes about the relationship between humans and animals, in particular the role of speciesism and human supremacy in creating vulnerabilities for nonhuman animals. Learn more at