Postgraduate Students

PhD Candidates and Students

Jennifer Gravrok
B.S. Biology

Jennifer joined the ARG Dog Lab in 2016 at La Trobe University as an international student. Jennifer is currently interested in service dogs and how they assist their handler to thrive.

Nicholas Rutter
BPsychSc (Hons)

Nick’s research interests revolve around conservation detection dogs, which are dogs trained to use their incredible sense of smell to detect plant and animal material of interest to conservation efforts. His PhD looks at developing and evaluating a community volunteer model of conservation detection dog training and deployment on such projects as freshwater turtle nest detection.

Jessica Woodhead
BPsychSc (Hons)

Jess joined the ARG as an honours student in 2015 and commenced her PhD in 2017. Whilst her interests broadly encompass all things Anthrozoology, Jess’ current research area concerns companion dog breeding practices. In particular, she is interested in the role that early experiences have on adult dog behaviour and the subsequent dog-owner relationship outcomes.


Deanna Tepper
BPsychSc (Hons)

Deanna is interested in the psychological benefits of interacting with animals, with a focus on the use of dogs in school classrooms and early learning environments. Her current area of research explores whether interacting with dogs can improve aspects of human cognition.

Dac Loc Mai (Jimmy)
BPsychSc (Hons)

Jimmy enrolled at La Trobe University as an international PhD student and joined the ARG Dog Lab in 2018. Jimmy is interested in assistance dog puppy raising programs and aims to investigate and evaluate an optimal model for this practice.

Maike Foraita
B.Sc. Biology
M.Sc. Brain & Behaviour

Maike joined the ARG in February 2019 as an international PhD student from Germany. She is interested in animal cognition & behavior. Maike’s PhD project looks at the early development of cognition, especially inhibitory control and working memory, in assistance dog as well as pet dog puppies.