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Georgia Mason

Position/Title: Professor
Phone: (519) 824-4120 ext.56804
Office: ANNU 138

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Georgia Mason is a prize-winning behavioural biologist who studies how animals adapt to captivity (or fail to), especially conditions that meet their physiological needs but are too small or monotonous to allow natural behaviour. Why are so many animals prone to stress when housed like this? Are species that are resiliant to anthropogenic threat in the wild better able to cope with captive conditions? And what do such housing conditions do to animals' brains? She is also interested in the validation of animal welfare indicators, including refining how current indicators (e.g. stereotypic behaviour and judgment bias) are used; validating new indicators (e.g species-specific signals like facial expressions); and knowing which species or stages of development actually have welfare at all (a.k.a. the mystery of animal sentience). Her research usually focuses on farmed mink, laboratory animals, or datasets from animals kept in zoos; and currently her grad students are working with mice, rhesus monkeys and zebra fish, as well as with datasets from parrots, lemurs and carnivores.

Georgia has a first class degree in Zoology from Cambridge University (1984-1987), where she also did her PhD (1988-1992) and held a Clare College Research Fellowship (1991-1994). She then moved to Oxford's Zoology department, working for 5 years as a vertebrate biology 'demonstrator' (equivalent to an assistant professor), followed by a 5 year David Phillips Research Fellowship from the BBSRC. Georgia moved to Guelph in 2004 to take up a Canada Research Chair. She has over 200 publications, including a co-authored, edited book on stereotypic behaviour, and papers in NatureScience and TREE. She has been a Visiting Professor in Welfare Physiology at the Royal Veterinary College (UK), an Honorary Research Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa), as well as serving on numerous committees and working groups turning welfare science into policy (for instance for the European Union, the UK government’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the US’s National Academy of Science, and Canada’s National Farm Animal Care Council and Canadian Council on Animal Care).

Recently a finalist for a federal graduate advising award, she is passionate about effective graduate mentoring, and equity, diversity and inclusion issues in STEM. Her current students are Andrea Polanco, Michelle Lavery, Emma Mellor, Aileen MacLellan, Lindsey Kitchenham and Melanie Denomme, with Jess Cait due to join the lab in January. Recent students and post-docs include Miranda Bandeli, Aimee Adcock, Emma Nip, Sam Decker, Dr. Misha Ross. Dr. Lauren Dawson, and Dr. Jenna Cheal.

To find out more about life in her lab, see her lab blog: