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Past Students

Sarah Nadler

It was under her guidance that the Eckerd College Comparative Psychology was created!  During Sarah's four years at Eckerd, she volunteered at several animal care facilities including the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary and Southeast Guide Dogs Inc. She was also a manatee specialist at the South Florida Museum's Parker Aquarium where she cared for and trained Snooty the manatee. Sarah assisted Professor Highfill on cognitive studies with a variety of animals including: dogs, sea lions, and lemurs. After Eckerd she received her M.Ed. and Ed.S. degrees in Mental Health Counseling from the University of Florida. She is now back in St. Petersburg working as an adventure therapist and often brings her registered therapy dog to sessions!
Cassi Lyon

Cassi graduated from Eckerd with a double major in Psychology and International Relations and a Chinese minor. As part of ECCPL, she served as a student observer for the gorillas at Busch Gardens, Tampa. Through this experience she learned how to create and fill out behavioral ethograms concerning the eating behaviors of two of the park’s gorillas. She also volunteered at the Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy (SMART) for the three years, where she was able to work with horses and amazing children and adults with physical or mental disabilities. She is currently working at Disney's Animal Kingdom and is pursuing a career that furthers the rights of animals globally and makes their welfare and conservation a more oft-discussed issue.

Christine Dumbleton

During her time at Eckerd, Christine was a student observer of the elephants at Busch Gardens Tampa and an intern at the Big Cat Rescue.  Christine was also the lead researcher on a study investigating whether dogs can count.  She presented her research at the International Conference on Comparative Cognition. After graduation, Christine moved back to her home state of Massachusetts.  She is currently a full-time zookeeper at the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston.  There she trains giraffes and zebras!

Patrick Reed

During his time at Eckerd, Patrick was a student observer of elephants at Busch Gardens Tampa and a marine mammal intern at Gulf World Marine Park, Panama City Beach, FL. In his final year of college, Patrick interned at Discovery Cove in Orlando. He would commute between St. Petersburg and Orlando every week! His dedication paid off and he was ultimately hired as a marine mammal trainer at Discovery Cove.

Hunter Ballak 

While at Eckerd, Hunter majored in psychology and minored in biology. Since he was 3 years old, it has been his dream to be a dolphin trainer at SeaWorld. Prior to Eckerd, he was a camper with SeaWorld’s resident camps for 8 consecutive years learning everything he could about the marine mammal training industry. During his time at Eckerd, he interned at the South Florida Museum with Snooty the manatee. Hunter also served as the assistant director of Eckerd College Pet Life.  Hunter is now fulfilling his childhood dream by working as a trainer at SeaWorld Orlando!

Tia Hildebrandt

While at Eckerd, Tia double majored in Psychology and Anthropology and minored in Biology. Her senior thesis examined maternal behavior in orangutans. During her time at Eckerd,
Tia interned with many primate facilities including: the Center for Great Apes in Wauchula, Florida, the Primate Rescue Center in Wilmore, Kentucky, and the Omaha Zoo. She currently works at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo with various primate species. She aspires to one day become a primatologist and travel to Africa to rescue chimpanzees from unfortunate circumstances.

Joy Vincent

During her time at Eckerd, Joy majored in Psychology and minored in both Biology and Environmental Studies. She also kept busy as a Ford Scholar and a member of the Eckerd College Search and Rescue team. As ECCPL lab manager, Joy worked on several research projects at ZooTampa, and presented her research on Red River Hogs at the International Conference on Comparative Psychology. Joy also completed a senior thesis examining zoo education. Joy plans to pursue a doctorate in comparative psychology, and carry out research with elephants in Africa.

Hannah McCollam
Hannah, a psychology major, completed an impressive list of internships during her time at Eckerd. She volunteered with sea turtles at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Californian sea lions at Mystic Aquarium, and bottlenose dolphins at Dolphins Plus. She also served as the lead researcher on a conservation project at Florida Aquarium. All of her hard work paid off and she secured a job at SeaWorld San Antonio for after graduation! Hannah hopes to continue training marine mammals and exploring the field of comparative psychology.


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