Current Lab Members

Katie with dolphin

Katie Willgohs

Lab Manager and Lead Researcher

Katie is double majoring in Psychology and Animal Studies, with a minor in Environmental Studies. She grew up visiting facilities such as the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Dolphin Research Center, Dolphins Plus, and SeaWorld which sparked her love for animals. Katie started in the ECCPL as a First Year Research Associate, and she continues working with other students in the Dog Cognition Lab to conduct research studies, such as examining creative abilities in dogs as well object permanence capabilities in dogs. Katie is also assisting Prof. Highfill with elephant research as a research intern at ZooTampa. Before starting at the zoo, dolphins were her favorite animals, but elephants are quickly working their way into her heart. Katie’s favorite part about working in the lab is attending the International Conference on Comparative Cognition every year, as this is a great opportunity to meet others in the field and learn about their projects. After graduating, Katie hopes to earn her doctorate in comparative psychology and use it to educate others on animal conservation and the importance of zoos.

jenna with dog

Jenna Williams

Lab Co-Manager and Lead Researcher

Jenna is double majoring in Animal Studies and Psychology with a minor in Biology. As a First Year Research Associate, Jenna is working with other students on studying dog welfare in dorms versus houses. She has a research internship with ZooTampa this summer where she will be studying the impact certain exhibits and experiences have on the willingness of visitors to reduce their plastic waste. Jenna grew up visiting many zoos, like the St. Louis Zoo and the San Diego Zoo, but her love for animals started with her first pet dog when she was three. After graduating, Jenna hopes to earn her graduate degree in animal studies and work to improve the lives of animals.

michele

MICHELE CHAKY


Michele is triple majoring in Psychology, French, and Animal Studies. She first started working as a First Year Research Associate, studying dog behavior and cognition in the Eckerd College Dog Lab. Her love for animals started when she was 10 and first swam with dolphins. She spent the following years visiting places such as Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Dolphin Research Center, and GulfWorld Marine Park. She completed a marine mammal training internship with Southern Sea Otters at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. She currently is a behavioral research intern at ZooTampa studying the effect of up-close encounters on guests' conservation habits. After graduating, Michele wishes to spend the rest of her life with animals and apply her knowledge from Eckerd and ECCPL to educate the public on marine mammals, animal behavior, and conservation.

kayla with giraffe

KAYLA FULKERSON

Lead Researcher

Elephant Cooperation Strategies

Kayla is an Animals Studies major, minoring in Psychology and Leadership Studies. Growing up with 3 cats around the house, and visiting facilities like The Denver Zoo, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay she has loved animals from a young age. For multiple summers in high school, Kayla participated in the Zoo, and Vet Careers camps at Busch Gardens allowing her to gain experience working with animals like elephants, tigers, general hoofstock, hippos, rhinos, cheetahs, and many more. This furthered her love for animals, and inspired her to become an advocate for conservation of species. After graduating, she wants to pursue a career in animal care or zoo education and conservation.

Adrianna with dolphin

Adrianna Pulido


Adrianna is a double major in Animal Studies and Psychology. During the summer, she will be doing an internship at Croc Encounters maintaining the habitats of the animals. Adrianna grew up in a small town, but her love for marine life started when she was very young and spent her summers in Florida with her aunt and uncle. After graduating, she hopes to work as an animal trainer. She aspires to one day open her own dolphin-assisted therapy facility for children/adolescents with disabilities.

Cassidy Frieling


Cassidy is majoring in Animal Studies with a minor in Marine Science. Growing up, she went to the Denver Zoo, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and Denver Aquarium. She has been with the Denver Aquarium for two years now, where she volunteers, interns with the mammal staff, and works in dive operations. She has always loved animals, but her love skyrocketed when she started scuba diving. After graduating, she hopes to continue helping animals and go into marine mammal training and rehabilitation.

SARAH RHODES


Sarah is an Animal Studies and Psychology major. Growing up in Florida, she visited the theme parks a lot and her favorite, beside Disney of course, was always Seaworld. Her first memory of wanting to be a Seaworld trainer was when she was about three years old and that dream has not changed at all! The summer before her senior year of high school, Sarah finally saved enough money to go to Seaworld San Antonio's career camp which allowed her to realize she was okay with having to wake up at 4 to prep all of the smelly fish for the day if it meant doing what she loved. After graduating, she hopes to become a trainer at Discovery Cove where she can teach guests about conservation issues while they are in the water with a dolphin.

LINDSAY SCHWEIZER


Lindsay is a sophomore double majoring in Animal Studies and Psychology with a minor in Spanish. She is from Fairfield, Connecticut and has grown up with 3 cats always in the house. Her love for animals began when she would visit the Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport, Connecticut and the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, Connecticut on school trips. One year for her birthday instead of asking for gifts, she asked for money to donate to the Beardsley Zoo. When she presented the money to the zoo director, she was taken back to play with the Ocelot and feed the black bears. Lindsay’s favorite animals are a white rhino and Great Hammerhead sharks. At Eckerd, she is involved with the lab as well as the Anthrozoology club. She went to the Bimini Shark Lab in the Bahamas and assisted with research being conducted by the lab members. She is excited about the opportunities the ECCPL offers. She hopes to become a mammal trainer or an educator about zoos and aquariums to young students in the future.

Sonny Schoenhoft


Sonny is a double major in Animal Studies and Psychology. Her love for animals began with her 4 family dogs, foster puppy litters, and as many trips to the Brookfield Zoo, Lincoln Park Zoo, and the Shedd aquarium as possible. One of her hands on experiences with animals was as a doggy daycare attendant and shadow trainer’s assistant, this grew her interest in how animals cognitively interact together. Currently, Sonny works at Southeastern Guide Dogs in the Puppy nursery and Puppy kindergarten as a canine care technician and puppy educator. After graduating from Eckerd, Sonny hopes to become an official service dog trainer as well as travel the globe and compare how dogs behave and interact with others differently in contrasting parts of the world.

Madeline Ketner

Lead Researcher

Madeline is majoring in Animal Studies with a minor in Biology and Spanish. Throughout high school, she worked at the Greensboro Science Center Aquarium as a docent, which allowed her to educate her community about the ocean and its inhabitants. She is passionate about marine mammals and enjoys visiting aquariums and animal sanctuaries all over the nation. This passion was sparked from a young age due to spending a lot of her childhood on the East Coast. She is particularly fascinated in sharks and hopes to develop a career focusing on the study of shark psychology and behavior.

AUBREE FISHER

Aubree Fisher is a sophomore at Eckerd College this year and is very excited to be joining the Eckerd College Comparative Psychology Lab! She is majoring in both Environmental and Animal studies with a minor in Anthropology. Aubree is just starting off in this group as a Literature Searcher and hopes to build on the foundations of her future in working with animals. She does not have much previous work experience with animals, but has interacted with them all her life. Having pets growing up, Aubree has always been interested in the lives of non-human animals, inspiring her to be involved in this field. She hopes to gain knowledge about the relationships we have with animals and to be able to educate others about what we can learn from them.

JULIA GRASSO


Julia Grasso is an Animals Studies major with a minor in Psychology. Growing up, she frequently visited many zoos and aquariums, including The Denver Zoo, The Henry Doorly Zoo, The San Diego Zoo, and spent a summer working near The Monterey Bay Aquarium. Throughout the past few years, Julia has participated in many programs, including a dolphin training workshop in Marineland, Florida, studying a rare cat species in South Africa, including how the global pandemic has impacted them, and most recently completed a year long internship at Disney's Animal Kingdom. This solidified her passion for animals, and inspired her to work toward education on conservation. After graduating, she wants to pursue a career in Disney's Animal Kingdom as an animal trainer and educator.

KASEY CARR


Kasey Carr is an Animal Studies major with minors in Marine Science and Spanish. She has grown up always having animals in the house such as dogs, cats, fish, hermit crabs, bearded dragons, and crawfish. She grew up going to New England Aquarium and Mystic Aquarium. Her family also travelled a lot and would stop at aquariums along the way, such as in Virginia and Florida. Living on the beach in Massachusetts, Kasey grew up with a love for marine animals. She went to SeaWorld Camp in Orlando for several summers and that’s when her love for animals grew even greater. After graduating, Kasey hopes to pursue a job in marine rescue and rehabilitation.

SEAN JACOBSON


Sean is a double major in Biology and Animal Studies. He has spent his youth traveling and working with wildlife. He has also spent time researching sloth anatomy in Costa Rica, as well as monitoring lemur behavior in Madagascar. Sean has a dog at home named Puff who is pictured alongside him. In his spare time, you can find Sean and his Bearded Dragon soaking up the sun on the beach and lounging in a hammock. Sean started in the ECCPL as a First Year Research Associate, and he continues working in the lab.

HAILEY MCGOVERN


Ever since Hailey was a little girl she has always surrounded herself with animals. She grew up riding horses, and has owned multiple pets ranging from a hermit crab to a dog! Most recently she has been working around marine mammals. She has a particular love for dolphins and studying their behavior. After college she hopes to pursue a career in marine mammal training in managed care!