Associate Professor Nik Taylor

nik and loki(Dr.) Nik Taylor is an internationally recognized critical and public sociologist who has published over 70 articles, books and book chapters. Her research focusses on mechanisms of power and marginalisation expressed in/through human relations with other species and is informed by critical/ intersectional feminism. Nik currently teaches topics in the Human Services and Social Work program at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, that focus on human-animal violence links; scholar-advocacy; social change, and crime and deviance, particularly domestic violence and animal abuse.  Nik’s latest books include Ethnography after Humanism Power, Politics and Method in Multi-Species Research (Palgrave, 2017, with Lindsay Hamilton) and Neoliberalization, Universities and the Public Intellectual: Species, Gender and Class and the Production of Knowledge (Palgrave, 2017, with Heather Fraser). 

More about Nik at her University of Canterbury page here.  Follow her on Twitter @animalsociology. Find many of her publications for download at researchgate and/or


Associate Professor Heather Fraser

meg and shelby

(Dr.) Heather Fraser has been a social work educator for three decades and is currently an Associate Professor in the School of Public Health and Social Work at QUT in Brisbane. At QUT Heather teaches social work students in both the Bachelors and Masters Programs. Since 2009 she worked as a Senior Lecturer and Associate Professor at Flinders University in South Australia, teaching topics such as Social Work with Diverse Populations, Reasons for Social Work, Ethics and Critical Reflexivity, Understanding Addictions and Human Rights Based Social Work Practice. Heather’s recent research projects relate to: a) understanding violence and abuse from an anti-oppressive practice perspective; b) the meanings diverse groups of people attribute to their companion animals; c) appreciating working class women’s experiences of university; d) domestic violence and companion animals; and e) dairy famers’ wellbeing and animal welfare practices. Heather is the (co)author of more than forty publications, including three books, the first being, In the Name of Love, Women’s Narratives of Love and Abuse (2008, Women’s Press, Toronto). She identifies as an intersectional feminist and critical social worker. More about Heather at her QUT webpage here:



Associate Professor Carol Irizarry

carol-irizarry-copyDr Carol Irizarry is an Associate Professor in the School of Social and Policy Studies. She completed her MS (Social Work) at Columbia University in New York City returning to her home country Canada where she was actively involved as a health social worker in supporting refugees from Latin America as well as migrants from Portugal and the Cape Verde islands.  Carol completed her PhD at Rutgers University in New Jersey on children’s reactions to the death of a grandparent – a study that was conducted with school children in Adelaide after she had taken a position in the School of Social Work at Flinders University.   Research activities have included a project to document the voices refugee young people in care around their experiences in Adelaide, an evaluation of carers of people with a disability, an ARC research project with UniSA to investigate how mobile technology can assist older people and research into relative/kinship care within Families SA. Most recently she is involved in research relating to people over 70 in the paid workforce and evaluating the placements of social work students in Asia.  Carol is Chair of the International Engagement Committee for the School of Social and Policy Studies.

More about Carol on her Flinders webpage here.

Dr Lisel O’Dwyer

Pitch and TellyA Flinders graduate with a PhD in social science (1997), Lisel has a long standing interest in a wide range of human-animal issues and has also worked as a professional positive behavioural trainer of all species, mostly dogs and horses, but she has also trained cats, chickens, and alpacas. With colleague Dr Susan Hazel, Lisel is involved with teaching positive reinforcement training techniques to veterinary and animal science students at the Roseworthy campus of the University of Adelaide, using chickens. Susan and Lisel have found that this training technique has had a major impact on how students view chickens’ intelligence and wellbeing. Other animal related projects she is involved with include pet relinquishment by elderly people entering aged care, the relationships between dog ownership and physical activity in the baby boomer generation, and the behavioural mechanisms common in obese or overweight dog owners with obese or overweight dogs and the role of pet ownership in workers’ propensity to make use of flexible working options. Lisel also provides customised pet funeral celebrancy, in recognition of the human-animal bond and the place of animals in conceptions of family.

Associate Professor Damien Riggs

willy and harryDamien Riggs is an Associate Professor in social work and an Australian Research Council Future Fellow at Flinders University. For over a decade his research has focused on family diversification, and more latterly his attention has turned to kinship arrangements involving human and non-human relationships. Most recently this has included a focus on the relationship between animal violence and domestic violence in the relationships of lesbians, gay men, and bisexual and transgender people, a collaborative project being undertaken with other members of the AISWG.

Damien tweets about families at @ausfamilies, and most of his publications are freely available at



Dian Fowles

sacha pawsDian completed her Bachelor of Environmental Studies at the University of Adelaide in 2000, where her key interest of ‘Environment as Other’ was a marriage of her two majors of politics and environmental studies. In 2001, also at the University of Adelaide, she achieved an Honours first class, her research project being an investigation into the ways that animals are used, and trivialised, in advertising and the consequences of this in shaping or entrenching attitudes toward broader environmental issues.  In 2006 she completed a Graduate Certificate in Grief, Loss and Trauma Counselling at Flinders University. Her particular interest, in keeping with her broad interest in human-animal relationships, was in disenfranchised grief, particularly pet loss.  Her current PhD research is based on gaining an understanding of how human-animal relationships are impacted in times of natural disaster and what kinds of issues arise in times of emergency evacuation.  She is an avid photographer and has had three exhibitions to date.

 Zoei Sutton

zoei web picZoei is a PhD candidate who recently finished her Honours year in Sociology at Flinders University (2013). Her Honours thesis, Giving Them Away: The Role of Animal Shelters in Promoting Companion Animal Disposability, explored the most influential factors contributing to the high figures of companion animal surrender to shelters each year. Her research interests at this time centre around commodification of companion animals in consumer society, in particular the perpetuation of misconceptions or the ‘myth’ of the perfect pet- a standard many companion animals are held (and fail to live up) to. She hopes that by illuminating these influential factors and misconceptions, more effective education campaigns which encourage critical thinking and engagement will emerge.

Pieter Verdonk

PieterPieter is a current Bachelor of Social Work student looking to begin his Honours in Social Work in 2016. Presently, Pieter is initiating and coordinating a Companion Animal Project for the City of Charles Sturt within his university placement. This involves supporting and assisting older people to keep their companion animals and maintain the positive, beneficial relationship this provides them. Coordinating this project has particularly prepared Pieter for analysing and understanding how companion animals are seen in the community, and how they can be an ‘in’ to help people in other areas. Pieter currently has two cats and also loves dogs, cockatiels and all animals in general!


Simon Carter

JackSimon is a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne; his PhD is presently under examination.  He holds a Master of Urban Planning and has Bachelors’ qualifications in Commerce (actuarial studies) and Science (statistics).  His research explores different aspects of how planning for dogs takes shape in our cities and how the actions of governments affect outcomes of justice for dogs in the community.  He is particularly intrigued with questions of intentionality, of why planning for dogs and management of dogs takes shape the way that it does, and what that means for dogs.  Through his research in urban and regional planning, Simon hopes to contribute to the broader recognition and celebration of the innate capabilities and potential of our four-legged friends in their own right.

 Yvonne Cooke

YYvonne recently finished her Degree in Behavioural and Social Sciences at Flinders University having arrived in Australia from the UK 9 years ago. She brought Ryan, her horse, with her when she moved and he is now 27 years old.  Yvonne is a Human and Equine Craniosacral Therapist and has also studied Bach Flower Essences which she uses regularly for her family – both two and four legged! She is interested in, and practices, alternative healing such as Reiki, Homeopathy, Crystal Essences all of which she uses with her animals at home, and those at the RSPCA at Lonsdale (South Australia) where she is currently a volunteer.  She firmly believes in the need for animals to receive the same legal and social protection that children do. Yvonne lives with 18 animals at her home, the majority of whom are rescued, and once they come into her care they never leave!

Di Evans

Hidee as a pupDi Evans, who is a veterinary science graduate from Murdoch University in WA, joined the RSPCA South Australia as their new Animal Welfare Advocate in May 2013. Di has had a strong interest in animal welfare and assisted in the Human and Animal Bioethics course review and re-development at Murdoch University, where she was also a senior adjunct lecturer for several years. She completed her Masters at Murdoch, titled ‘Developing animal welfare codes of practice: Evaluation of strategies for the pet shop industry’ and is a member of the Animal Welfare Chapter of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists. Di has a keen interest in humane education having developed ‘PetPep, the Pets and People Education Program’ for primary school teachers in collaboration with the WA Primary Science Teachers Association, which she gave as a gift to the Australian Veterinary Association. She is currently developing the RSPCA South Australia schools and community education program. She is also exploring initiatives to assist community health care services to provide more support to their clients who have companion animals. Through the Flinder’s School of Social and Policy Studies, she is co-supervising a work placement project in conjunction with Anglicare on ‘Safeguarding the rights of elderly people and their companion animals’.

Donelle Gadenne

Donelle with Lotus SparrowDonelle is a qualified veterinary nurse who worked in the veterinary industry for over two decades before leaving the profession in 2013. In 2011 she completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Writing, Editing and International Cultural Studies at Edith Cowan University in Perth, Western Australia and obtained an Honours degree in writing the following year. She recently completed a Master of Arts degree in English at the University of Canterbury (within the New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies, NZCHAS) and is co-author, along with Associate Professor Annie Potts, of Animals in Emergencies: Learning from the Christchurch Earthquakes (Canterbury University Press 2014). She has written about literary representations of fish and fly fishing in fishing literature as well as analysed depictions of companion canines in dog narratives, both from within a Critical Animal Studies framework.

Find more information on her publications at

Dr Tania Signal

TaniaDr Tania Signal comes originally from New Zealand where she received her PhD in Psychology from Waikato University working within the Animal Behaviour and Welfare Research Centre. In 2003 she moved to Australia and took up a Lectureship at Central Queensland University, now a Senior Lecturer she has developed a comprehensive research program broadly investigating Human-Animal Interaction covering topics such as potential links between personality factors (especially empathy), interpersonal violence and the treatment of animals through to community attitudes regarding farm animal welfare and suitable penalties for individuals convicted of animal cruelty offenses. As well as publishing in academic outlets Dr Signal is committed to delivering ‘real world’ outcomes from her research and regularly speaks at community events for the RSPCA (Qld) and is part of the ‘Voices of Influence’ campaign for WSPA (Aus).  Tania is a member of the Australian Animal Studies Group, the Queensland Centre for Domestic & Family Violence, the Institute for Health & Social Science Research and a Charter Scholar Member of the Animals & Society Institute (USA).  She is also on the editorial panel for the international journals, Society & Animals and Human-Animal Interaction Bulletin and regularly reviews for Anthrozoos and a number of international journals in Psychology and Education.

Lesca Sofyan

CHIKO - LescaLesca Sofyan is a final year student in Animal and Veterinary Biosciences at the University of Sydney. Her honours project is examining the link between domestic violence and animal abuse in Sydney homes. The research will also explore whether pet owning victims of family violence have a good relationship with veterinarians or animal welfare workers. This research ultimately aims to highlight ways in which these relationships can be improved so that the veterinary profession can better support both human and animal victims of family violence.


Dr. Linda Tallberg

Linda Lady Nima Boris & BarneyLinda is from Finland and has a Masters of Science degree in Economics and a PhD in Management and Organization from Hanken School of Economics. She convenes and lectures at the business school of Griffith University, (Australia), in management subjects such as organisational change and communication. Linda has worked and lived across the world both in academia and in the private sector.  Her PhD is based on an ethnographic study in a large Australian animal welfare organisation, where she worked as an animal attendant in one of the animal shelters. In her study, she reveals issues such as emotion, power, and coping as central both for the employees and the animals involved. She uses alternative methods to represent the context and animal voices such as poetry and narratives. Linda has also lectured on animal ethics in high-schools in Finland and is a strong advocate for both animal rights and welfare. She is working on bringing nonhuman animal perspectives, interests and issues into a predominantly human-oriented business environment. Her specific field is in Organizational Studies and she publishes in peer-reviewed management journals and presents at international management conferences on human-animal issues. She has her trusted canine research assistant, Nima (also originally from Finland), with her at all times, and fosters dogs needing rehabilitation on a regular basis.

Dr Lydia Tong

Lydia and Scarlett croppedLydia is a veterinarian and veterinary pathologist who is from New Zealand, trained in England at Cambridge University, and now works at Sydney University Faculty of Veterinary Science. Lydia has a special interest in the pathology of animal abuse and the links between animal abuse and domestic violence. In her current research into the links between animal and human violence, she is examining the frequency of pet abuse in violent homes in NSW, and whether victims of domestic violence utilize and trust veterinarians when their pets are injured by a violent partner. Other areas of research include defining the features of abuse injuries in animals, in order to help veterinarians identify when their patients have been abused. Lydia is the founder of the Sydney University Veterinary Forensics Society, and she hopes to establish an Institute for Veterinary Forensics Research one day. She has a blind cat called Claude Monet, and a one-eyed Kelpie x Dingo called Scarlett who is herself a survivor of abuse.

Meg Vine

Millie and ThunderMeg currently resides in Armidale, NSW and has a Bachelor of Laws and Legal Practice (Hons)/Bachelor of Arts from Flinders University and a Master of Laws from University of Sydney. She is currently lecturing and tutoring in Torts and tutoring in Property Law at the University of New England. Her research interests include Animal law and Torts, Environmental Law, Energy and Resources Law, International Law and Tax. In the near future she is looking to focus her research into Animal Law aspects that interact with other areas of the law such as trespass to land and the current Ag-gag law proposals. Her trusted companions Millie (the cocker spaniel) and Thunder (the rabbit) are keeping a close eye on her to ensure she gets on with her work.

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