Who We Are

We facilitate the well-being of animals using sound science and ethics to investigate and promote the best animal care and management practices.

CAWS Director: Candace Croney, Ph.D.

Steering Committee:

    • Alan Beck, Director, Center for the Human-Animal Bond
    • Nancy Edwards, Associate Professor of Nursing and Director, AGNP Program
    • Bill Muir, Professor of Animal Sciences
    • Tracy Vemulapalli, Clinical Assistant Professor in Comparative Pathobiology
    • Nicole Widmar, Associate Professor of Agricultural Economics

CAWS Program Assistant: Catherine Smith, B.S.


Scientists with the USDA-ARS Livestock Behavior Research Unit are Adjunct Faculty in the Department of Animal Sciences.


Kolapo Ajuwon, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Animal Science

Research Intersts: food animal well-being; factors and nutrition that affect insulin resistant phenotypes in adipose tissue.

Alan Beck

Alan Beck, Sc.D.

Director, Center for the Human-Animal Bond
Dorothy N. McAllister Professor of Animal Ecology

Research Interests: Human-animal bond; urban animal ecology; animal companionship; the effects of animal use for therapy.


Paul Brown

Professor of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences

Research Interests: aquaculture and aquatic animal nutrition.


Joseph Camp, Ph. D.

Professor of Veterinary Parasitology>
Secratary of Faculties

Research Interests: parasite epidemiology; food animal and non-animal well-being.

Heng-wei Chang

Heng-wei Cheng, Ph.D.

Research Biologist
USDA-ARS Livestock Behavior Research Unit

Dr. Cheng has been a research scientists at USDA-ARS LBRU and Purdue University for 13 years.  Dr. Cheng’s research has been focused on animal well-being, with emphases on the interactions of the psychological, genetic, neurobiological, physiological, and immunological events that alter an animal’s adaptability to husbandry environments. His current research emphases are on 1) pain in farm animals, following various management practices, such as beak trimming in poultry; 2) genetic selection for improving animal well-being; 3) preventing aggression by modification of the serotonin system; 4) developing intervention strategies for increasing heat tolerance; and 5) developing alternative housing systems for improving animal health and production.


Linda Chezem, J.D.

Professor Youth Development and Agricultural Education

Research Interests: ethical issues in forensic science; ethical and legal issues in research; justice system education; legal issues in alcohol use and misuse; agricultural law.

Candace Croney

Candace Croney, Ph.D.

Director, Center for Animal Welfare Science
Associate Professor of Animal Behavior and Well-being

Research Interests: cognition; companion and agricultural animal welfare; enrichment; animal bioethics; public perceptions of animal agriculture.


Nancy Edwards, Ph.D., ANP, NP

Associate Professor of Nursing
Director, AGNP Program

Research Interests: adult nursing; gerontology; development of non-pharmacologic care protocols for neuroprogressive disease patients.

Brianna Gaskill

Susan Eicher, Ph.D.

Research Physiologist (Animals)
USDA-ARS Livestock Behavior Research Unit

Research Interests: Immunology, Behavior and Well-Being



Lynetta Freeman, D.V.M

Associate Professor if Small Animal Surgery

Research Interests: minimally invasive surgery; non-food animal well-being; interface between human-animal bond and animal welfare.

Brianna Gaskill

Brianna Gaskill, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Animal Welfare in Comparative Pathobiology

Research Interests: applied ethology, enrichment design and application, improving husbandry techniques, and how environment can affect scientific results when not tailored to the animal's needs and motivations.


W. Mark Hilton, D.V.M.

Clinical Professor, Food Animal Production Medicine

Research Interests:well-being and nutirtional aspects of food animals.

Janice Kritchevsky

Janice Kritchevsky, V.M.D., M.S.

Professor, Large Animal Medicine

Research Interests: equine endocrinology and equine geriatric medicine; the welfare implications of chronic laminitis and other lameness in horses

Donald C. Lay Jr.

Donald C. Lay Jr.

Ph.D. Texas A&M University 1995
Livestock Behavior Research Unit
USDA-Agricultural Research Service

Don's research focuses on applied ethology and stress physiology. His recent projects are aimed at: increasing sow longevity, developing an alternative, humane method of euthanizing piglets, increasing neonatal piglet survival, investigating affective states in swine, and understanding the methods in which animals adapt to climate change.


George Moore, D.V.M., M.S., Ph.D.

Professor of Clinical Epidemiology
Director, Clinical Trials Group
Professor, Small Animal Internal Medicine

Research Interests: companion animal epidemiology; infectious disease; zoonoses; evidence-based medicine.

Bill Muir

William Muir, Ph.D.

Professor of Animal Sciences

Research Interests: breeding and genetics; poultry; aquaculture; developing genetic methods to improve adaptability, stress resistance, and animal well-being.


Jiqin Ni, Ph. D.

Associate Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering

Research Interests: methodology and technology in air quality, bioenergy from agricultural wastes, and air and water pollution abatement; livestock ad rural waste systems engineering.

Niwako Ogata

Niwako Ogata, B.V.Sc., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Animal Behavior

Research Interests: pursuing mental health and well-being in companion animals; translational research between the human psychiatric field and veterinary behavior.

Maggie O'Haire

Marguerite (Maggie) O'Haire, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Human-Animal Interaction in Comparative Pathobiology

Research Interests: animal-assisted intervention; human-animal interaction in populations such as children with autism, ADHD, cancer, and the general population; www.humananimalinteraction.org


Audrey Ruple-Czerniak, D.V.M., M.S., Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Public Health Epidemiology

ResearchInterests: infectious disease epidemiology; non=food animal well-being; public issues and animal welfare.


Allan Schinckel, Ph.D., M.S.

Professor of Animal Sciences

Research Interests: breeding, genetics, and growth of swine.

Tracy Vemulapalli

Tracy Vemulapalli, D.V.M., M.S., D.A.C.L.A.M.

Clinical Assistant Professor in Comparative Pathobiology
Director, The Indiana Graduate Training/Residency Program in Laboratory Animal Medicine

Research Interests: refining selective neuromuscular blockade for therapeutic applications; collaborative research in the area of infectious disease (rodent models); refinement of laboratory animal housing, husbandry, and enrichment (multiple species); refinement of animal models of human diseases.

Hsin-Yi Weng

Hsin-Yi Weng, B.V.M., M.P.H., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Clinical/Analytical Epidemiology

Research Interests: epidemiologic methods and their applications to human-animal interaction studies and animal welfare sciences

Nicole Olynk Widmar

Nicole Olynk Widmar, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Agricultural Economics

Research Interests: farm business management; on-farm decisions making; integrating consumer demand for livestock housing and handling practices into production decisions

Back to the Top

Graduate Students and Post-Doctoral Researchers

Ann Cummins

Ann Cummins

B.S. in Mathematics, St. Mary's University of Minnesota
Research Assistant and Masters Student, Agricultural Economics

Research Interests: agribusiness; applied research related to the impacts of management decisions, marketing, and consumer preferences

Jiaying Hu

Jiaying Hu

B.S. in Bioengineering, Shanghai University

Masters Student, Animal Sciences
Advisor: Heng-wei Cheng

Research Interests: effects of different diets and environments on the poultry welfare

Moriah HurtMoriah Hurt

B.S. in Animal Sciences, Purdue University

Masters Student, Comparative Pathoiology
Advisor: Dr. Candace Croney

Research Interests: welfare and behavior of dogs in kennel environmnets

Jay S Johnson

Jay S. Johnson, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Research Associate
ARS-USDA Livestock Behavior Research Unit

B.S. in Animal Sciences, University of Missouri
M.S. in Animal Sciences, University of Missouri
Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences, Iowa State University

Research Interests: effects of environmental and nutritional stress (pre- and postnatal) on physiology, metabolic health, and overall wellbeing of livestock and laboratory animal species

Megan LaFollette

Megan LaFollette

BS in Biology, Truman State University
Masters Student, Comparative Pathobiology
Advisors: Dr. Brianna Gaskill and Dr. Maggie O’Haire

Research interests:  effects of human-animal interactions on both animals and people


Carissa McKay

Carissa McKay

B.S. in Agricultural Business, Purdue University 
Research Assistant and Masters Student, Agricultural Economics

Research Interests: applied research related to the impacts of on-farm decisions, dairy economics, international development


Gabriella Morello

Gabriella Morello

Degree in Agricultural Engineering, State University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Brazil
MS, University of Kentucky

Ph.D. Student, Animal Sciences
Advisor: Dr. Jeremy Marchant-Forde

Research Interests: animal welfare in swine production, welfare of sows and piglets in farrowing systems

Amy Robinson-Junker

Amy Robinson-Junker

BS in Biological Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Parkside
Masters Student, Comparative Pathobiology
Advisor: Dr. Brianna Gaskill

Research interests: welfare assessment of captive animals

Judi Stella

Judi Stella, Ph.D.

Science Fellow, USDA-APHIS
Dr. Croney Lab

B.S. in Animal Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University
Ph.D. in Comparative and Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University

Research Interests: effects of environment on behavior and welfare of companion animals; impacts of the quality of human-animal interactions; how societal perceptions of animals affect the human-animal bond and relinquishment or abandonment of companion animals

Feifei Yan

Feifei Yan

PhD Student, Animal Sciences
Advisor: Dr. Cheng, Dr. Hester

BS, Zhejiang University

Research Interests: Osteoporosis in egg laying hens strains of chickens; the effect of mechanical loading on skeletal mineralization and integrity in egg laying strains of chickens; stress response of hens in relation to perch access

Back to the Top

CAWS Staff

catherine smith

Catherine E. Smith

CAWS Program Assistant

3rd Year Veterinary Student, DVM Class of 2017
President, PVM Exotic Animal Club

B.S. in Biological Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Minor in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences

Sarah E. Nixon

Sarah E. Nixon

Graphic Designer

Sarah Nixon is a graduate of Purdue University's Class of 2014 and received her degree in Creative Writing and Professional Writing. Originally from Indiana, she is currently living in San Francisco, California and fulfilling her career dream by working in the video game industry. When not gaming, she tries to tackle the foe that is the empty Word doc, plays with her cat, and pretends to know what she's doing in Photoshop. A strong proponent of ethical animal husbandry practices, she was excited to help the Center for Animal Welfare Science with some of their research and now this design project.

Back to the Top


Interested in becoming a member of the Center for Animal Welfare Science?

Contact Us

Contact the Center for Animal Welfare Science

Director: Dr. Candace Croney
Email: ccroney@purdue.edu
Phone: 765-496-6665

Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, 625 Harrison Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-7607

@ 2015 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by PVM Web Communications

If you have trouble accessing this page because of a disability, please contact PVM Web Communications at vetwebteam@purdue.edu.