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

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Prisca Mbachu

Research Coordinator

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Rhea Sparrow

Lead 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.

Email Dr. O'Haire Read Dr. O'Haire's work on Google Scholar Follow Dr. O'Haire on LinkedIn Read Dr. O'Haire's work on Research Gate

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.

Email Clare Jensen 

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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.

Email Leanne Nieforth 

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Prisca Mbachu

Research Coordinator

Prisca joined the OHAIRE Lab in the summer of 2018 and is currently the new 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 is currently working 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 will be starting her Master's in Biomedical Engineering at Purdue this August.

Email Prisca Mbachu 

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Rhea Sparrow

Lead Research Assistant

Rhea joined the OHAIRE Lab in August of 2018. She has 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 trains research assistants while overseeing all aspects of participant communication. Rhea will graduate 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.

Email Rhea Sparrow  Follow Rhea Sparrow on LinkedIn

OHAIRE Lab Alumni

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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.

Email Kerri Rodriguez Read Kerri Rodriguez's work on Google Scholar Read Kerri Rodriguez's work on Research Gate

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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.

Email Megan LaFollette Read Megan LaFollette's publications on Google Scholar Follow Megan LaFollette on LinkedIn Follow Megan LaFollette on Research Gate

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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.

Email Jessica Bibbo Read Jessica Bibbo’s work on Google Scholar Follow Megan LaFollette on LinkedIn Read Jessica Bibbo’s work on Research Gate

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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.

Email Jessica Bibbo Read Jessica Bibbo’s work on Google Scholar Read Jessica Bibbo’s work on Research Gate

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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.

Email Georgitta Valiyamattam Read Georgitta Valiyamattam’s work on Google Scholar Read Georgitta Valiyamattam’s work on Research Gate

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