Dr. Kelly George's Research Represents Shift in Animal Sciences Focus

March 27, 2018

Dr. Kelly George is part of the changing mission of animal sciences. Her work in human-animal interactions and animal welfare, with domestic and exotic animals, represents a shift in the fields of research and practice.

George was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. Although raised in a suburban area, it was her love of animals that brought her to animal sciences. “Like many of our undergraduates, I love animals and wanted to work with a variety of species,” said George.

A Columbus native, it was a natural fit for George to attend The Ohio State University. She earned all three of her degrees from Ohio State. She holds a B.A. in International Studies, a M.A. in Geography, and a Ph.D. in Environmental and Natural Studies.

George began working in the Department of Animal Sciences in 2006. She held a variety of staff positions while earning her graduate degrees. During that time, she taught courses and helped develop the education abroad programs for the department as part of a new “Human and Animal Interactions” initiative. She also served as club advisor for Paws for a Cause! -  an organization that helped raise funds to provide supplies and support for working dogs. She continuDr. Kelly George feeds a baby warthog during the CHAIRE open housees to teach animal welfare-related courses and serve as the department’s education abroad coordinator. George is now the faculty advisor for the Human-Animal Interactions Club (HAIC). George was promoted to Assistant Professor – Professional Practice, in 2017.

George’s research focuses on human-animal interactions as well as improvement of welfare for both humans and animals during the interaction. “I work in a variety of areas, which is the most exciting part about my job – within the same day I might be conducting welfare research on California Sea Lions, discussing global food production, and the potential of dog-assisted therapy for children affected by the opioid epidemic,” said George. George has an article accepted to the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) journal. She is currently working on articles for the Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research and the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare Journal. She will also be presenting at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums national conference in September.

The focus on human-animal interactions and welfare led George to be one of the founding members of the Center for Human-Animal Interactions Research and Education (CHAIRE). CHAIRE is committed to expanding knowledge of the interrelationships between people, animals, and the environment. CHAIRE is unique from other existing centers in that the animals and interactions examined expand beyond companion animals and equine to include agricultural animals, wildlife, and exotic animals. Another important distinction of CHAIRE is the purposeful effort to consider all human-animal interactions from not only the human perspective, but also the animal perspective. CHAIRE recently received a grant funded through The Ohio State University’s $1.35 million Opioid Innovation Fund (OIF). OIF is dedicated to understanding the opioid crisis and inspiring new and existing partnerships to develop programs that alleviate the opioid burden in Ohio. CHAIRE will use the grant to conduct a feasibility study to determine if certified-therapy dogs help alleviate stress of children in the child welfare system during supervised, mandatory, parent-child visits with their opioid misusing parents.

When not conducting research, teaching, travelling abroad, and working for CHAIRE, George enjoys spending time with her family. She and her husband, Richard, have two children - Amanda and Troy - and two grandchildren – Brennan and Ian.

Dr. Kelly George combines a diverse background and research interests to help guide the Department of Animal Sciences into the future. Her work in human-animal interactions, welfare, and education abroad represent a shift in the direction of animal sciences.Dr. Kelly George receives a grant funded by the Opioid Innovation Fund for CHAIRE, from Dr. Bill Martin