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Michelle Szydlowski

A PhD candidate in Anthrozoology, Michelle is currently teaching anthrozoology and ecology courses at a private college in Florida. One of the few undergraduate programs for anthrozoology in the US, this college specializes in students with learning differences or autism spectrum disorder. Her passion is teaching the cross-cultural aspects of anthrozoology, and how using an anthrozoological focus can benefit conservation.

Michelle spent decades teaching in public schools, zoos and museums. She changed careers mid-life to focus on companion animal and wildlife health, later teaching future veterinary technicians how to care for avian and reptile patients. Her MA in Anthrozoology, completed via Exeter in 2017, focused on how novel practices in ecotourism impact community-based conservation efforts for rhino and elephant in Nepal. Michelle is active with endangered species conservation projects around Bardia and Chitwan National Parks.

Michelle returns to Asia regularly, continuing her work with community-based conservation efforts focused on endangered species preservation, elephant welfare, wildlife health and sustainable development. Her PhD research focuses on captive elephants in the Sauraha area of Nepal, and examines the health and welfare of these endangered individuals and the members of marginalized communities that care for them. In addition, Michelle focuses on governmental, NGO and INGO programs which attempt to help captive elephants, and how their interactions impact population-level health and individual elephant lives.

Michelle is serving as the board chair of a non-profit conservation fund focused on supporting community-based initiatives globally. She is active in local environmental education projects, humane education initiatives, one world/one health programs, and biodiversity preservation initiatives. When not teaching, she can often be found speaking at conferences or to community groups about her work in Nepal, conservation and other topics in anthrozoology. Upcoming projects include a large human-elephant mitigation program with co-researchers from Nepal and the launch of an elephant research and information website. With two fellow Exeter PhD students, Michelle launched The Anthrozoology Podcast and Anthrozoology Speaks, two platforms allowing for larger participation in discussions about the complex relationships between species.