A Conversation with our New Associate Dean for Research
The Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine is continuing to grow and develop a robust staff aligned with our vision of teaching and advancing the field of veterinary medicine. The newest member of our senior leadership is not only renowned in her field of research focused on human-animal interaction and the human-animal bond but is a passionate leader and educator who has mentored graduate and undergraduate students with distinction. She has accumulated 61 peer-reviewed publications with nearly 3,000 citations, given more than 200 national and international presentations, and received 16 national and international awards. Under her leadership, the University of Arizona will retain the largest group Human-Animal Interaction faculty group in the world.
We are pleased to announce and look forward to seeing what we can accomplish under the leadership of our new Associate Dean for Research, Dr. Maggie O'Haire. Learn about her passion for the field of Human-Animal Interaction and why she chose to join the Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine.
1. Tell us a little about yourself and how you got where you are today.
I was born in Connecticut, grew up in Georgia, went to college in New York, and completed graduate school and a postdoctoral research fellowship in Australia. My BA (Vassar College) and PhD (The University of Queensland) are in Psychology. I have always been interested in the intersection between veterinary medicine and human psychology and was delighted to find that the field of human-animal interaction exists and creates a perfect space for this interdisciplinary career path. For the last decade, I was a tenure-track faculty member with the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine's Center for the Human-Animal Bond. In that role, I built national and international partnerships to expand our knowledge of the role of human-animal interactions in our lives.
2. What drew you to the Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine?
I love the idea of building an innovative college and research portfolio from the ground up. I am inspired by Dean Funk's vision to change the field's landscape and create new opportunities for students, researchers, and the community. It is rare to find a college so uniquely motivated and well placed to make a meaningful impact. I look forward to joining a team that is creative, energized, and dedicated to moving the field forward.
3. What is your vision for research in veterinary medicine?
My vision is for our college to be the global leader in research on human-animal interaction. Historically, our understanding of the human-animal bond relied primarily on emotional intuition and anecdotes. Our goal is to use cutting-edge methodology to validate the measurable impact of interacting with animals on human health. These findings will inform policy, legislation, insurance, access, and clinical practice.
4. What are you passionate about and looking forward to bringing to Arizona?
I am passionate about conducting strong science on human-animal interaction. My current research portfolio focuses mainly on the impact of assistance animals on psychosocial functioning. I will be bringing an NIH R01 grant to conduct a national clinical trial on the efficacy of service dogs for military veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
I look forward to engaging graduate and undergraduate students across campus to participate in data collection and analysis for this exciting and impactful work. I am also passionate about building strong, supportive teams that foster diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. I look forward to incorporating this into all aspects of our work.
5. What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Outside work, I love to spend time outdoors with my family, including my 3-year-old daughter, husband, and dog. We love hiking, going to the beach, and travel adventures. Recent highlights include hiking the rainforest of Costa Rica (with an infant on my back) and snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef in Australia (my husband is Australian). I am excited to live in a new place with many beautiful outdoor opportunities, and I welcome recommendations!