About the speakers

Invited speakers

Shanis Barnard Queens University, Belfast United Kingdom
Roberto Bonanni University of Parma Italy
Simona Cafazzo University of Vienna, Wolf Science Center Austria
Alexa Capra Gentle Team Italy
Elisa Silvia Colombo University of Milan Italy
Claudia Fugazza Eötvös Loránd University Hungary
Simon Gadbois Dalhousie University, Halifax Canada
Lisa Horn University of Vienna Austria
Alexandra Horowitz Barnard College, New York United States of America
Ludwig Huber University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna Austria
Juliane Kaminski University of Portsmouth United Kingdom
Sarah Marshall-Pescini University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Wolf Science Center Austria
Eugenia Natoli Local Health Board “Roma D” Italy
Emanuela Prato Previde University of Milan Italy
Nicola Rooney University of Bristol United Kingdom
James Serpell University of Philadelphia United States of America
Josef Topal Research Centre for Natural Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences Hungary
Tiziano Travain University of Parma Italy
Paola Valsecchi University of Parma Italy
Joanne van der Borg Wageningen University The Netherlands
Zsofia Viranyi University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Wolf Science Center Austria

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Shanis Barnard
Shanis is an ethologist and graduated at the University of Parma (Italy) in Biological Sciences. Her thesis, on the validation of a temperament test for shelter dogs, was the first step toward her current main areas of interest, which include human-animal relationship, dog behavior, cognition and welfare. Shanis awarded her PhD in Behavioral Biology in 2011 where her studies aimed at investigating temperament and cognition in different dog breeds. During her doctorate, she took part to different scientific studies aimed at investigating the social behavior of popular dog breeds.
Shanis worked for three years as a researcher for the Human-Animal Relationship and Animal Welfare Unit at the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell’Abruzzo e del Molise. She was involved in the development of several research projects, national and EU-funded, on companion animal and livestock welfare and on stray dog and cat population control and management collaborating with international organizations as RSPCA and FourPaws. Her most relevant work focused on the use of animal-based measures as indicators of welfare for dogs housed in rescue shelters. Recently she was involved as independent expert in the Study on the welfare of dogs and cats involved in commercial practices, funded by the DG SANCO of the European Commission.
At present Shanis has been appointed for a Post Doctorate fellowship at Queen’s University Belfast on canine behavior and welfare on a BBSRC funded project.
Her favorite teacher is her pet dog Mia.
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Roberto Bonanni
Roberto Bonanni is a researcher with an expertise in the study of the social behavior of mammals. He graduated in Biological Sciences, with honors, at the University of Rome La Sapienza in 2002, discussing an experimental thesis on the social behavior of stray cats. In 2006, he was awarded a grant by the German Academic Exchange Service to take part in a research on the socio-endocrinology of spotted hyenas at the Leibniz-Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research of Berlin. He completed his PhD degree in Behavioral Biology at the University of Parma in 2009, with a thesis on cooperation, leadership, and inter-group competition in free-ranging dogs. Subsequently, he was involved in the management and census of free-ranging dog populations in collaboration with the Department of Public Veterinary Health of Rome. Currently, he is collaborating as statistical adviser with several Italian Universities. His main research interests concern the intra-specific social relationships of dogs: how they are affected by humans and by ecological variables, as well as how a deeper understanding of them could contribute to improve the quality of dog-human relationships.
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Simona Cafazzo
Simona Cafazzo graduated with honors in Biological Sciences at the University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, with a thesis on social organization of a group of semi-feral domestic cats. She obtained her PhD in Behavioral Biology at the University of Parma doing research on social dynamics and spatial distribution of a group of free-ranging domestic dogs. During this period, she collaborated with the Istituto Zooprofilattico del Lazio and Tuscany to a project concerning the monitoring and evaluation of dog shelters in Lazio. Then, she worked on a research project in collaboration with ASL Roma D and University of Parma, which aim was to gather information on telemetry methods, usually used as a control tool in pharmacological study, as an evaluation tool of dog shelter welfare, on cognitive abilities of shelter dogs, depending on social environment, stress and deprivation, in view of behavioral adaptation that the dog will live after the adoption occurred. She obtained her first postdoctoral grant at the University of Bologna where she carried out researches on welfare of farm animals (piglets and calves).
Currently she’s ‘senior scientist” at the Wolf Science Center in Austria, where she obtained a grant to study conflict management strategies in wolves and dogs.
She is author of peer-reviewed papers of social behavior and welfare of dogs, cats, piglets and calves.
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Alexa Capra
She is president of ASD Gentle Team, association gathering ethologists, researchers, dog trainers, and owners. Dog trainer recognized by ENCI and CSEN. Lecturer at the University Master for Dog Trainers of the University of Pisa, lecturer of ethology in the training course of the Anti-Drug Dog Units of the Penitentiary Police. She has taught at the degree courses in Evolution of Animal and Human Behavior of the University of Turin, in Biology at the University of Florence and Parma, and at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Milan and Turin. From 2004 to 2010, she was responsible for the project “Former fighters” of ENPA. She’s author of a scientific research project conducted in collaboration with the University of Turin. And she was external supervisor in six experimental theses carried out under the project “Former fighters”. Author of several books and dvds on the behavior of the dog, and of The Dog’s Ethogram (ed. Skilladin).
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Elisa Silvia Colombo
Psychologist, graduated with honors in Clinical Psychology and Neuropsychology at University of Milano – Bicocca, with a thesis on nonverbal communication through gazing, comparing dogs and pre-verbal children. She obtained a master in Counseling and Positive Psychology at APL (Associazione Psicologi Lombardia).
Currently, she’s carrying out a PhD program in Psychobiology at University of Milan, with a research project on empathy towards animals. Her research interests are animal-human relationship, both normal and pathological (e.g., Animal Hoarding; compassion fatigue and burn-out in professionals who work with animals), and dogs’ emotions and cognition.
She lives in Monza with Niki, a lucky stray dog.

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Claudia Fugazza
I am currently working as a research fellow in the Department of Biomedicina Comparata e Alimentazione of the University of Padua, on a project on sex differences in cognitive abilities in dogs.
I conducted my PhD in Ethology at Eötvös Loránd University (Budapest) on social learning and imitation in dogs with Prof. A. Miklosi.
I received my B.Sc. on Dog Breeding and Education (TACREC), a Master in Ethology of Companion Animals and a Master in Dog Training at the University of Pisa (Italy).
I developed a training method called Do as I Do (named after Hayes & Hayes 1952 and Topal et al. 2006) which relies on dog’s social cognitive skills and I am using this method both for applied dog training purposes and as paradigm to study dogs’ cognitive abilities.
Although my main interest has always been the study of canids’ behavior, before devoting myself to research, I received a M.Sc. in law at the University of Insubria (Como, Italy) and worked as a lawyer.
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Simon Gadbois
Simon Gadbois integrates ethology, animal experimental psychology, and behavioral neuroscience to study wild and domestic canids. He completed his Ph.D. in behavioral endocrinology at Dalhousie University and the Canadian Center for Wolf Research (CCWR) examining the hormonal correlates of social behavior in wolves, as well as action sequences in wolves, coyotes, and red foxes. When the CCWR closed in 2007, he started the Canid Behavior Research Lab at Dalhousie University (Halifax, Canada) and focused his research on coyote-human conflicts and canine scent detection and search. He is interested in the fundamental science of olfaction and olfactory learning, as well as some applications of scent processing in environmental/conservation, biomedical, and forensic areas.
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Lisa Horn
Lisa Horn studied Zoology at the University of Vienna and Psychology at the University of Western Australia in Perth, graduating in 2007 with an MSc project on individual differences in social learning in dogs (supervisor: Ludwig Huber). After finishing her MSc, she worked as a research assistant at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig on a project on individual cognitive differences in dogs (supervisor: Michael Tomasello). Lisa Horn carried out her PhD project at the University of Vienna and the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, investigating the link between the dog-human relationship and socio-cognitive abilities in dogs (2008-2012, supervisors: Ludwig Huber, Friederike Range, Ádám Miklósi). During her PhD she also spent a research period at the University of Milan, carrying out a project on cross-cultural differences in dog-human attachment (supervisors: Emanuela Prato Previde, Sarah Marshall-Pescini). As a postdoctoral researcher, she has worked at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, the Messerli Research Institute for Human-Animal Interactions, and the University of Vienna. Her research focus lies on investigating social cognition in humans and non-human animals, particularly in the mechanisms of social bonding and behavioral coordination. She is currently investigating the evolution of pro-sociality by comparing the frequency of and motivations for pro-social behavior in human children and several corvid species. Her study species are as diverse as azure-winged magpies, carrion crows, pet dogs, and human adults and children.
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Alexandra Horowitz
Alexandra Horowitz is a professor of psychology at Barnard College, Columbia University; she earned her Ph.D. in Cognitive Science at the University of California at San Diego. The Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard conducts research on a wide range of topics, including, lately: dog olfaction; inter-species play behavior; and attributions of secondary emotions to dogs. In addition to many scholarly articles relating to dog behavior and cognition, she is author of Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know (Scribner, 2009), On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes (Scribner, 2013) and editor of Domestic Dog Cognition and Behavior (Springer-Verlag, 2014).

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Ludwig Huber
Ludwig Huber is Professor of the Natural Science Foundations of Animal Ethics and Human-Animal Interactions at the Messerli Research Institute, an Interdisciplinary Institute of the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, the Medical University of Vienna, and the University of Vienna. There he is the head of the Division of Comparative Cognition, which includes the Clever Dog Lab Vienna, the Research Station on Cognition and Communication (Haidlhof) and is linked to the Wolf Science Center (Ernstbrunn). His research focuses on animal cognition in a broad, comparative manner, including such diverse species as humans, marmosets, dogs, kea, pigeons, red-footed tortoise, lizards, poison frogs and archer fish. He has written more than 100 research articles and book chapters about these topics, and is the co-editor of several books including The Evolution of Cognition (MIT Press 2000).
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Juliane Kaminski
I am a senior lecturer in the psychology department of the University of Portsmouth. Before that I was the group leader of the research group “Evolutionary Roots of Human Social Interaction” at the Max Planck Institute for evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig/ Germany where I also completed my PhD in 2005 (with Michael Tomasello & Josep Call). I was also a Junior Research Fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge University.
My main research interest is the evolution of human sociality with a particular focus on social cognition. Here I am especially interested in the individual’s understanding of others’ perception, knowledge, intentions, desires and beliefs. I am also interested in questions concerning cooperation and communication among individuals. In my research I follow a comparative approach, that is, I select meaningful groups for comparisons. One comparison is that of humans with their closest living relatives, the great apes. Another comparison is that of humans with one of their closest living domesticated species, the domestic dog.
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Sarah Marshall-Pescini
Sarah Marshall-Pescini graduated in Psychology from St Andrews University, carrying out her thesis on social learning in macaques. She then went on to do her PhD with Andy Whiten from the same University looking at social learning in sanctuary chimpanzees (Ngamba Island Sanctuary, Uganda) and working for some time with wild chimpanzees in Budongo and Kibale forest (Uganda). On returning to Italy, her home country, she started working at Milan University, where she co-founded a small (but lively) dog cognition lab, whilst carrying out a second PhD and then a postdoc. Since March 2013 she has joined the team at the Messerli Research Institute and Wolf Science Center as a senior postdoc scientist collaborating on the Canine Cooperation Project. She has published over 20 scientific papers and recently co-edited a volume for Elsevier (Kaminski, J, Marshall-Pescini, S “The Social Dog: cognition and behavior”).
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Eugenia Natoli
Eugenia Natoli is a biologist, ethologist and responsible for research on animal behavior at the Veterinary Hospital, Local Health Unit Rome D in Rome, (I). She received her bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences, magna cum laude, from the University of Rome (I) in 1981, and her PhD in Anthropological Sciences from the University of Florence (I) in 1993. Lecturer (course of Behavioral Ecology) at the University of Pavia for the A.Y. 1994-1995 and professor (course of Behavioral Ecology) at the CNRS-Université Claude-Bernard Lyon I (F) for the A.Y. 1995/1996, 1999/2000, 2009/2010, 2011/2012 and 2014/2015. Her research focused in the past on social and sexual behavior of voles and on social behavior of non-human Primates; today her research focus on the behavior and welfare of dogs and cats, on the determination of temperament in shelter dogs, and on reproductive strategies in felines. She has written more than 50 articles and book chapters on these and related topics, and is a co-editor of a book on the bioethical aspects of dangerous dog management (2006).
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Emanuela Prato Previde
Emanuela Prato-Previde is Associate Professor of Psychology, at present working at the Department of Pathophysiology and Transplantation (DEPT), Neuroscience Section, University of Milan.
She co-founded and runs the small but lively lab on Comparative Cognition & Human-Animal Interaction (Canis sapiens Lab, http://www.comportamentoanimale.it).
She has a PhD in Psychobiology (Biology of Behavior) and is lecturer in general psychology at the Medical Faculty of the University of Milan. She also teaches comparative psychology and cognition at the Specialization Course in Applied Ethology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Milan.
For many years her main focus of interest has been comparative psychology, comparative cognition and human-animal relationship and interaction. At present her research focuses on dog cognition, human-dog bond, human-animal interactions, including empathy towards animals and the type of variables that affect it.
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Nicola Rooney
Dr Nicola Rooney is a Research Fellow in the Animal Welfare and Behavior Group at the University of Bristol UK. She completed her PhD on “the effects of play upon the dog-human relationship”, and her studies have continued to focus on the behavior and welfare of a range of companion animals and their interactions with humans.
For the past fifteen Nicola has headed a team conducting research on working dogs, working collaboratively with many law enforcement, and other industries, worldwide. She has also studied medical alert dogs and most recently racing greyhounds. Her research aims to optimise dog-handler team performance whilst also improving individual dog welfare, and the findings have been incorporated into the policy of many working dog agencies worldwide. Nicola also works as an independent consultant to the RSPCA and the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund, producing evidence-based guidelines on the use of dogs, rabbits and other species and independent reports on numerous topics.
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James Serpell
James Serpell is the Marie A. Moore Professor of Animal Ethics & Welfare at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. He received his bachelor’s degree in Zoology from University College London in 1974, and his PhD in Animal Behavior from the University of Liverpool (UK) in 1980. He also directed the Companion Animal Research Group at the University of Cambridge (1985-1993) before moving to his current position at the University of Pennsylvania. His research focuses on the behavior and welfare of dogs and cats, the development of human attitudes to animals, and the history and impact of human-animal relationships. He has written more than 120 articles and book chapters on these and related topics, and is the author, editor or co-editor of several books including The Domestic Dog: Its Evolution, Behaviour & Interactions with People (1995) and In the Company of Animals (1996).
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Josef Topal
József Topál is an ethologist, he received his PhD degree in Behavioral Biology (2000) and his DSc degree in Cognitive Psychology (2014). He was a founding member of the Family Dog Research Project (1994-), the first research group to study the social cognition in dogs (http://familydogproject.elte.hu/). Currently he is the vice director of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology and the head of the Psychobiology Research Group, RCNS, HAS, Budapest (http://www.ttk.mta.hu/en/). His main area of research interest is social cognition in general and the social-behavioral characteristics that dogs share with humans in more particular. In 2001 and 2004 he gained Frank A. Beach Comparative Psychology Award which is given each year by the American Psychological Association to recognize the best paper published in the Journal of Comparative Psychology. He has published extensively on dog behavior, and dog-human interaction in the last few years, he is author of more than 100 scientific publications.
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Tiziano Travain
Tiziano is a Ph.D. student in Behavioral Biology in the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Parma. His main area of research are the study with non-invasive methods as infrared thermography of the physiological correlates of dogs’ emotions, behavior and welfare. He is working on a research project in collaboration with ASL Roma D, which aim was to gather information on telemetry methods, usually used as a control tool in pharmacological study, as an evaluation tool of dog shelter welfare.
In the past, he received his MSc on Nature Conservation at the University of Parma and his BSc on Natural Sciences at the University of Padua. His previous works were about stress-related behavior of dogs during pet-therapy sessions and he has contributed to the management and conservation of wildlife studying the golden jackal (Canis aureus) in North-Eastern Italy.
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Paola Valsecchi
Paola Valsecchi is associate professor of Applied Ethology at the Dipartimento di Neuroscienze at the Università degli Studi di Parma. After a Ph.D. in Biology of Behavior on social learning in the laboratory mouse she spent many years investigating social behavior in mice and gerbils. Since 2000 her main area of research interest is dog behavior, in particular human-dog bond, dog’s temperament, and physiological correlates of dog’s behavior and welfare.
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Joanne van der Borg
Joanne van der Borg is a behavioral biologist from Wageningen University, the Netherlands, with special interest in dogs and their relation with owners. For her master degree (Utrecht University, 1988) she studied the communication in group housed domestic dogs. During 2 years she conducted research at Utrecht University on characterizing dogs in animal shelters. For 12 years she worked at the Van Hall Institute as lecturer in Ethology. Since 2003, she holds a position at Wageningen University lecturing on dog behavior and supervising thesis students in Animal Sciences and Biology on dog/cat research. Her main focus is on development of behavior tests to characterize dogs by personality traits. She combines her scientific work with practical experience in dog training and behavioral therapy. Since 1995, Joanne van der Borg also holds her own company DogVision, providing courses on dog behavioral therapy.
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Zsofia Viranyi
Zsófia Virányi holds a senior researcher position at the Messerli Research Institute, dedicated to the scientific study of human-animal interactions, at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna. She received her Ph.D. on Ethology in 2004 at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary. She conducted postdoctoral projects at the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research, Altenberg, Austria and at the University of Vienna. She is a founder of the Clever Dog Lab and the Wolf Science Center, and was the coordinator of the ESF Research Networking Programme “CompCog”. Her work investigating the effects of domestication on dog cognition and social behavior in comparison to wolves is currently supported by a WWTF and an FWF grant.
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