Current Staff

Lance J. Miller, Ph.D., Vice President of Conservation Science and Animal Welfare Research, received his graduate training in Experimental Psychology from the University of Southern Mississippi.  Previously, he held positions as a Research Manager at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Scientist for the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. He is currently a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Research and Technology Committee, Advisor to the AZA Animal Welfare Committee, and a steering committee member for the AZA Ambassador Animal Scientific Advisory Group.

Jessica Whitham, Ph.D., Animal Welfare Biologist, received her graduate training from the University of Chicago’s Department of Comparative Human Development. Jessica has spent 15 years designing, implementing and analyzing behavioral studies for a variety of taxa. She also has experience monitoring the physiological stress responses of birds, mammals and reptiles using enzyme immunoassay analyses. She is co-developer of the WelfareTrak® system designed to monitor the welfare of individual animals. Jessica’s undergraduate and graduate research focused on primate communication and cognition.

Lisa Lauderdale, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Research Fellow, received her graduate training in the Marine Mammal Behavior & Cognition Lab at The University of Southern Mississippi. Dr. Lauderdale has over seven years of experience working with bottlenose dolphins in managed-care settings both as a scientist and animal care specialist. Her research has focused on the use of interactive enrichment devices to promote positive welfare and investigated learning processes in relation to persistence and failure. She is also a co-developer of MorphTrak®, a tool to estimate and manage bottlenose dolphin weights from morphometrics.

Maggie Ramont, MSc, Behavioral Research Assistant, received her B.A. in Biology from St. Olaf College in Minnesota. While studying, she interned at the Minnesota zoo as a zookeeper in two departments. After graduating, she moved abroad to complete her MSc in Zoo Conservation Biology at the University of Plymouth in the UK, where she discovered her passion for animal behavior and welfare research. Her thesis focused on the use of conspecific calls as potential enrichment for red howler monkeys. After returning to Chicago, Maggie interned at both Brookfield Zoo and Lincoln Park Zoo, continuing to learn and refine her skills as an animal welfare researcher. At Brookfield Zoo, she assisted in coding behavioral data for the recently published Cetacean Welfare Study; at Lincoln Park Zoo, she conducted two studies on the effects of visitors on the behavior and welfare of two program animal species at the Farm-in-the-Zoo.

Animal Welfare Research