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 Keynote: Dr. Sandra McCune, VN, BA (Mod), PhD

Dr. Sandra McCune's ISAZ 2023 keynote talk will draw on her international experience of leading research programmes to provide a synthesis of the history and future of human-animal interaction research. She will also consider the challenges of translating human-animal interaction research evidence into policy and practice to support animals and people.

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Sandra qualified as a registered veterinary nurse in 1983 from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, UK, before completing a degree in zoology from Trinity College, The University of Dublin, Ireland. She has a PhD in animal behaviour and welfare from the University of Cambridge, U.K. She has studied a range of companion animal topics including aspects of temperament, behaviour, cognition and welfare, and Human-Animal Interaction (HAI).

Until 2019, Sandra was a scientific leader for Mars Petcare, based at the WALTHAM Petcare Science Institute. For 12 years, she led the HAI area in research and then HAI science communications. She has extensive experience studying HAI from both animal and human perspectives in collaborations with HAI researchers from the USA, U.K., Austria, France, Germany, Australia, Brazil, Russia, Japan and China and regularly presents internationally on companion animals and their relationship with people. 

While working for WALTHAM, Sandra was instrumental in the establishment of the public-private partnership between the National Institutes of Health and Mars/WALTHAM focused on child development and HAI resulting in a multi-million dollar program of high-quality HAI research, workshops and several edited volumes, journal series and book chapters.

Sandra has been an editor for a Spotlight Series in Applied Developmental Science: Animal Assisted Interventions in Special Populations (2017) and two Research Topics in Frontiers journals: Human-Animal Interaction (HAI) Research: A Decade of Progress (2019); and, Our Canine Connection: The History, Benefits and Future of Human-Dog Interactions (2021).

Sandra is a Visiting Professor of Human-Animal Interaction at the University of Lincoln in the School of Life Sciences and the School of Psychology. She is the founding director of ANIMAL MATTERS Consultancy Ltd, providing expert input on a wide range of animal issues. She is a trustee for the UK charity, Society for Companion Animal Studies and a Fellow of the Annenberg PetSpace Leadership Institute. She shares her home with her family including two cats and a dog.

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