Courtney Graham

BSc (Geography), MSc (Applied Animal Biology)


I am currently a PhD student in the Department of Population Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College. I completed my BSc in Geography at the University of Victoria and then took a few years off to travel and work. I later returned to school and, being a lifelong animal lover, was thrilled to discover the field of animal behaviour and welfare science while attending the University of British Columbia (UBC). In early 2017, I completed my MSc in Applied Animal Biology in UBC’s Animal Welfare Program and knew I had found my passion. In the fall of 2017, I moved to Ontario to begin my PhD with Dr. Lee Niel, where I am continuing my dream of studying the behaviour and welfare of animals. Here, I have the opportunity to research domestic kittens and cats, a species that has always had a place in my heart. I am investigating the effects of socialization and early management strategies for identifying fear behaviour in kittens and assessing this behaviour’s progression through development. I am particularly interested in the interactions between fear and development of temperament, owner attitudes and influence on kitten behaviour, and how socialization can help reduce fear and promote successful adoptions and enhance the human-animal bond. The overall aim of this research is to advance our understanding of fear behaviour in kittens and cats and improve their welfare in the many shelters and homes within which they live.