Meet the OHAIRE Lab

Learn more about Dr. O'Haire

Dr. Maggie O'Haire

Associate Professor

Learn more about Clare Jensen

Clare Jensen

Graduate Student

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Leanne Nieforth

Graduate Student

Learn more about Sarah Leighton

Sarah Leighton

Graduate Student

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Elise Miller

Lead Data Research Assistant

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Marjorie Leblanc

Research Assistant

Dr. Maggie O'Haire

Dr. Maggie O'Haire

Associate Professor of Human-Animal Interaction

Dr. Marguerite (Maggie) O’Haire is an internationally recognized Fulbright Scholar who is currently an Associate Professor of Human-Animal Interaction in the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University. She earned her BA in Psychology from Vassar College in New York and her PhD in Psychology from The University of Queensland in Australia. Her research program focuses on the unique and pervasive ways that humans interact with animals. From research with household pets to highly trained service animals, her findings have been instrumental in evaluating the effects of human-animal interactions. She has received funding from three different NIH institutes (NICHD, NCCIH, NCATS) to fund her human-animal interaction research. Check out an interview with Dr. O’Haire and NIH Medline Plus and her "Meet the Anthrozoologist" Interview to see her advice on becoming a human-animal interaction researcher.

Dr. O’Haire’s research topics have included classroom-based, animal-assisted intervention for children with autism spectrum disorder and the effects of service dogs for veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder and their families. In addition to her peer-reviewed publications and textbook chapters, her work has also been highlighted in over 1,000 media stories around the globe, including NPR, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times. Dr. O’Haire has won the International Society for Anthrozoology (ISAZ) Early Career Award and the Young Alumnae Achievement Award from Vassar College for her exceptional professional achievements. At Purdue, she currently enjoys teaching and mentoring students in her productive human-animal interaction lab.

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Clare Jensen

Clare Jensen

Graduate Student

Clare joined the OHAIRE Lab as a project coordinator in January of 2018 began her PhD in August of 2018. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Kalamazoo College in Michigan where she conducted research on augmentation of taste aversion learning. After graduating, Clare also spent time as a project coordinator on a crime reduction study through the University of Michigan School of Public Health. At Purdue, Clare is part of the NIH-funded study focusing on the efficacy of service dogs for military veterans with PTSD, a focus that will build into her upcoming dissertation.


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Leanne Nieforth

Graduate Student

Leanne began her PhD in the OHAIRE Lab in August of 2019. She earned her Master of Science in Communication and her Bachelor of Science in Animal Science at the North Carolina State University. Prior to joining the OHAIRE Lab, her research focused on the human-horse interaction during equine assisted mental health sessions. At Purdue, Leanne is part of the NIH-funded study focusing on the efficacy of service dogs for veterans with PTSD. She has a special interest in the influence of service dogs on family dynamics.


Sarah Leighton

Sarah Leighton

Graduate Student

Sarah started her PhD in the OHAIRE Lab in August of 2021. She previously earned her Bachelor of Arts in Neurobiology & Animal Behavior at Cornell University, and from 2010-2021 worked for Canine Companions, a national non-profit that trains and places service dogs with people with disabilities. As part of her work with Canine Companions Sarah was closely involved in the research and development of programs to place service dogs with military veterans with PTSD, a topic she will continue to explore in her time at Purdue.


Elise Miller

Elise Miller

Lead Data Research Assistant

Elise joined the OHAIRE lab in August of 2020. As an undergraduate research assistant, she has mainly worked on the K9s for Warriors study and is also in charge of enrolment and reliability scoring for the OHAIRE Coding System. In August of 2021 she began in the role of Lead Data Research Assistant and leads a team of two data research assistants in data preparation and analysis. Elise will graduate in 2023 with a Bachelor of Science in Data Science, a second major in Applied Statistics and a minor in Spanish.


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Marjorie Leblanc

Research Assistant

Marjorie joined the OHAIRE lab in August of 2020. As an undergraduate research assistant, she has mainly worked on Purdue Canines for Autism Research Study (Purdue CARES) and is also in charge of editing the lab's website. Marjorie will graduate in 2022 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology before entering the Purdue College of Veterinary Medicine as a student in the Veterinary Scholars Program. .


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Nira Grynheim

Research Assistant

Nira joined the OHAIRE lab in January 2020. As an undergraduate research assistant, she has worked on Purdue Canines for Autism Research Study (Purdue CARES) and is in charge of following up with participants in the OHAIRE Coding System. Nira will be graduating in May 2022 with a Bachelor of Science in Animal Sciences and a double minor in Critical Disability Studies and Psychology. Her career goals are to train service dogs for differently abled adolescents and employ ex-offenders as her fellow handlers. She is currently the active President of Purdue MANRRS, a BSU student mentor and a Furlough volunteer for Indiana Canine Assistant Network (ICAN).


OHAIRE Lab Alumni


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Prisca Mbachu

Prisca joined the OHAIRE Lab in the summer of 2018 and was the research coordinator. Before advancing to her new role, she worked as an undergraduate research assistant where she contributed to the Canine Assistants study and the OHAIRE Coding System training course. She then worked on the NIH-funded study focusing on the efficacy of service dogs for veterans with PTSD. Prisca earned her Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering at Purdue University in May 2020 and started her Master's in Biomedical Engineering at Purdue in August 2021 .


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Rhea Sparrow

Rhea joined the OHAIRE Lab in August of 2018. She contributed to the creation and management of the OHAIRE Coding System training course, the Purdue Canines for Autism Research Study (Purdue CARES), as well as various novel research projects. As the lead research assistant for the lab, Rhea trained research assistants while overseeing all aspects of participant communication. Rhea graduated in May 2021 with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and a Bachelor of Science in Brain and Behavioral Science with a minor in Human Development and Family Studies .


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Annika Larson

Annika joined the OHAIRE lab in June of 2020. As an undergraduate research assistant, she worked primarily on the Purdue Canines for Autism Research Study, but also spent time on various other projects, including creating/posting content on the International Society for Anthrozoology (ISAZ) social media pages, assisting graduate student Leanne Nieforth on her Review of Autism and Animal Assisted Interventions and presenting at the 2021 Spring Undergraduate Research Conference. Annika will graduate in 2023 with a Bachelor of Science in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences with a minor in Psychology.

 


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Dr. Ahmad Hakeem Abdul Wahab

Hakeem joined the OHAIRE lab in January 2018. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Business Economics from the University of Arizona in 2014, followed by a Masters of Science in 2014. He earned his Joint Masters in Computer Science & Statistics at Purdue University in 2017. After what feels like an eternity, he finally earned his doctorate in Statistics from Purdue in 2021. At the University of Arizona, Hakeem developed classifiers for sparse high dimensional data using Zero Inflated Negative Binomial models as prior weights for augmented LASSO to detect biomarkers for Type II Diabetes. At the OHAIRE lab, Hakeem developed Bayesian Machine Learning Models for repeated measures via T-Copulas and Polya-Gammas for generalized autoregressive(k) processes to assess how effective service dogs are in helping veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in relation to their propensity to being more involved with the public. Hakeem is joining Johnson & Johnson as a Senior Biostatistician in the Statistical Simulations and Modeling group, with an emphasis on causal inference.


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Dr. Kerri Rodriguez

Kerri Rodriguez conducted her PhD with the O'Haire Lab from 2015-2020. Her dissertation research focused on quantifying both psychosocial and physiological outcomes from PTSD service dogs and mobility and medical service dogs. She is now a postdoctoral fellow at the Human-Animal Bond in Colorado (HABIC) in the School of Social Work at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado.


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Dr. Megan LaFollette

Megan LaFollette is a 3Rs Fellow with The North American 3Rs Collaborative. She has her PhD in Animal Behavior & Well-Being from Purdue University, where she also received a Master of Science in Animal Welfare. Her primary interests lie at the intersection of human-animal interaction and animal welfare, especially in practical refinements for laboratory and companion animals. These interests have led to her conducting projects focused on rat tickling, compassion fatigue in laboratory animal personnel, refinement for cats in confinement, positive reinforcement in training horses, the welfare of service dogs, and human behavior change for animal welfare.


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Noémie Guérin

Noémie Guérin joined the OHAIRE lab in 2014 and earned her Master's Degree with Dr. O'Haire in 2017. Her research focused on the development and evaluation of the Observation of Human-Animal Interaction for Research coding system. Noémie is now the first Product Manager at Companion, a cutting-edge startup introducing automated dog training technology to the world.


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Dr. Jessica Bibbo

Jessica Bibbo was a postdoctoral research fellow at the OHAIRE Lab from 2016 to 2017. Dr. Bibbo’s work focused on the impact of mobility and medical alert dogs on family members such as parents and spouses. Dr. Bibbo is now a Research Scientist at the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging in Cleveland, Ohio where they investigate the impact of pet ownership and the human-animal bond on the lives of older adults and their families.


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Dr. Georgitta Valiyamattam

Georgitta Valiyamattam was a Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellow with the O’Haire Lab from 2016-2017. During her tenure she worked both on designing the neurobiomarker assessments that comprised her doctoral work and on exploring the multicultural considerations involved in animal-assisted interventions. Her dissertation research used an eye tracking paradigm to investigate how animals may modulate visual attention in children with autism. Georgitta is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Applied Psychology at Gitam University, Visakhapatnam, India and also works as a counselling psychologist with the Gitam Institute of Medical Sciences and Research. Her research interests include examining the benefits of animal-assisted intervention for children with developmental disabilities and gaining a more nuanced understanding of relationships with companion animals in the Indian setting.

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