Advisor: Psychology Club and Psi Chi
Principal Investigator of the Human-Animal Wellness Collaboratory (HAWC) and Aquatic Animal Learning Lab
Program Coordinator for the MU-Six Flags Affiliation
Scholarship Week Committee Member
Member of Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUC)
Ph.D., University of Florida
M.S., University of Florida
B.A., Franklin & Marshall College
- Regularly Taught Courses
- PY320: Research III: Experimental Methods and Laboratory
PY301: Psychology of Learning
PY411: Field Experience in Animal Behavior
PY103: Introduction to Psychology
PY398: Behavior Analysis
PY498: Canine Enrichment Independent Study Internship
Dr. Mehrkam is an applied animal behaviorist, animal welfare scientist, and doctoral-level Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (Certificate Number: 1-15-17919, Certified February 2015). Her primary research interests focus on the benefits of human-animal interaction, enrichment, and training for improving the welfare of both animals and people in society. As the director of the Human & Animal Welfare Collaboratory (HAWC) and the faculty representative for the Six Flags Field Experience Program, her teaching and research programs in applied animal behavior, learning, and well-being have led to grants, publications, workshops, internships, and service learning opportunities in animal shelters, zoos, aquariums, animal sanctuaries, among others. Dr. Mehrkam’s research has published widely in peer-reviewed scientific journals and presented at national and international conferences. She has been recognized through popular media outlets, grants, and scholarly and industry awards, including the Association for Professional Dog Trainers, Maddie’s Fund, and the Animal Behavior Management Alliance. In addition to teaching and research, Dr. Mehrkam serves as the Vice President for the Applied Animal Behavior Special Interest Group for the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) and as an advisory board member for Big Oak Wolf Sanctuary.
- Research Interests
Primary areas of interest include animal behavior, behavior analysis, and human-animal interactions with an emphasis on how the environment influences play, aggression, and stereotypic behavior in companion and exotic animals, how to promote behavioral choices and welfare of captive animals, and how to best conduct formal evaluations of training and enrichment practices in a variety of animal settings, as well as the assessment of human-animal interactions in therapeutic applications and in broader society.
- Scholarly Articles
Slocum, S.K., Mehrkam, L.R. , Peters, K., & Vollmer, T.R. (2017). Differential reinforcement of a discard response to treat pica. Behavioral Interventions , 32 (3), 234-241. doi: http://doi.org/10.1002/bin.1483
Alligood, C., Dorey, N.R., Mehrkam, L.R. , & Leighty, K. (2017). Applying behavior-analytic methodology to the science and practice of environmental enrichment in zoos and aquariums. Zoo Biology, 36 (3), 175-185. doi: http://doi.org/10.1002/zoo.21368
Vitale-Shreve, K., Mehrkam, L.R. , & Udell, M.A.R. (2017). Social interaction, food, scent or toys? (2017). A formal assessment of domestic pet and shelter cat ( Felis silvestris catus )
Cooke, R.F., Mehrkam, L.R., Marques, R.S., Lippolis, K.D., & Bohnert, D.W. (2017). Effects of a simulated wolf encounter on brain and blood biomarkers of stress-related psychological disorders in beef cows with or without previous exposure to wolves. Journal of Animal Science, 95 (3), 1154-1163.
Mehrkam, L. R., & Dorey, N. R. (2015). Preference assessments in the zoo: Keeper and staff predictions of enrichment preferences across species. Zoo Biology , 34 (5), 418-430. doi: http://doi.org/10.1002/zoo.21227
Dorey, N. R., Mehrkam, L. R., & Tacey, J. (2015). A method to assess relative preference for training and environmental enrichment in captive wolves ( Canis lupus and Canis lupus arctos ). Zoo Biology , 34 (6), 513-517. doi: http://doi.org/10.1002/zoo.21239
Protopopova A., Mehrkam L.R., Boggess M.M., & Wynne C.D.L. (2014). In-kennel behavior predicts length of stay in shelter dogs. PLoS ONE, 9 (12): e114319. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0114319
Mehrkam, L.R., Dorey, N.R. (2014). Is preference a predictor of enrichment efficacy in Galapagos tortoises ( Chelonoidis nigra )? Zoo Biology , 33 : 275-284. doi: 10.1002/zoo.21151
Mehrkam, L.R., & Thompson K.R. (2014). Seasonal trends in intrapack aggression of captive wolves ( Canis lupus ) and wolf-dog crosses: Implications for management in mixed-subspecies exhibits. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science , 18 :1-16. doi: 10.1080/10888705.2014.923773
Mehrkam L.R., & Wynne C.D.L. (2014). Behavioral differences among breeds of domestic dog: Current status of the science. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 155 : 12-27. doi: 10.1016/j.applanim.2014.03.005
- Popular Press
- 2017 Your Cat Thinks You’re Cool Scientific American
- 2017 Cats Found to Like Humans More Than Thought Phys.org
- 2017 Wolf Attacks Give Cows “PTSD-like” Symptoms, Study Finds The Oregonian
- Presentations/Invited Talks
Mehrkam, L.R. & Miller, L.J. (2016) Extending Behavior Analysis in Zoos and Aquariums. 42nd Annual Convention of the Association for Behavior Analysis International (Chicago, IL).
Mehrkam, L.R., Dorey, N.R., & Tacey, J. (2016). Translational Approaches to the Analysis of Animal Behavior in Zoological Settings (with C.A. Alligood). 42nd Annual Convention of the Association for Behavior Analysis International (Chicago, IL).
Mehrkam, L.R., Vazquez, C., Whitley, T., Caragan, C., & Wynne, C.D.L. (2015). Identifying behavioral precursors to play-induced aggression in domestic dogs. 41st Annual Convention of the Association for Behavior Analysis International (San Antonio, TX).
Mehrkam, L.R. & Dorey, N.R. (2015) Preference assessments in the zoo: enrichment efficacy, keeper validity, and species generality. 41st Annual Convention of the Association for Behavior Analysis International (San Antonio, TX).
Traub, M., Mehrkam, L.R., & Vollmer, T.R. (2015) The effects of stimulus control transfer, prompting on the emergence of pure mands. 41st Annual Convention of the Association for Behavior Analysis International (San Antonio, TX).*
Perez, B.C., Mehrkam, L.R., Vollmer, T.R., & Dorey, N.R. (2015). Functional analysis and treatment of resource guarding in pet dogs. 41st Annual Convention of the Association for Behavior Analysis International (San Antonio, TX).
Klinepeter, E., Mehrkam, L.R., Slocum, S.K., Peters, K.P., Vollmer, T.R. (2015). Using a differential reinforcement procedure to treat pica. 41st Annual Convention of the Association for Behavior Analysis International (San Antonio, TX).
Wunderlich, K.L., Vollmer, T.R., Mehrkam, L.R., Feuerbacher, E.N., Simms, C.B. (2015). Stability of function of automatically reinforced behavior over time. Annual Convention of the Association for Behavior Analysis International (San Antonio, TX).*
Self, T.N., Mehrkam, L.R., & Dorey, N.R. (2015). Functional analysis and treatment of visual fixation in border collies. Poster presentation. International Conference on Comparative Cognition (Melbourne, FL).*
McDougall, M., Mehrkam, L.R., & Dorey, N.R. (2015) Contrafreeloading in the domestic dog. Poster presentation. International Conference on Comparative Cognition (Melbourne, FL).
- Professional Associations
- Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)
- Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI)
- Animal Behavior Society (ABS)
- Animal Behavior Management Alliance (ABMA)
- American Psychological Association (APA)
- Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies
- Comparative Cognition Society (CCS)
2017 Project Title: “Do Playgroups Increase Behavioral and Physiological Welfare in Shelter Dogs?” Sponsor: Maddie’s Fund/Duffield Family Foundation Amount: $131,395 Role: PI
- Additional Information
- Doctoral-Level Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D)
- The Behavior Analyst Certification Board®, Inc. (BACB®)
- Certificate Number: 1-15-17919, Certified February 2015