Meet the Team: MSc Clinical Animal Behaviour
Meet the friendly and dedicated team behind our popular online MSc in Clinical Animal Behaviour.
Dr Amy Miele
I am Programme Director of the MSc Clinical Animal Behaviour online programme, which began in 2015 and is now in its sixth year.
The programme has proven to be very popular both with UK and International applicants and is the only online MSc programme to be validated by the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour as meeting the requirements for CCAB pre-certification.
I must confess to the old cliché of knowing that I wanted to be a vet from a very young age and I was fortunate to be able to realise this ambition when I graduated from the University of Edinburgh Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies (RDSVS) in 2006. Having always had a passion for animal behaviour, I completed an ESVPS Certificate in Animal Behaviour in 2010 and began to undertake behaviour consultations within small animal veterinary practice.
I then returned to the RDSVS to undertake a PhD in collaboration with the Donkey Sanctuary and very much caught the research bug! During my PhD I continued to provide a companion animal behaviour referral service to local small animal veterinary practices and I also began teaching animal behaviour to undergraduate and postgraduate students.
My own research interests are fairly broad, but include the role of physical health in problem behaviours. I am a member of the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education, and oversee the undergraduate CAB teaching alongside my role as MSc Programme Director. I enjoy spending my spare time exploring the Pentland Hills with my husband and young daughters. Then of course there is my Burmese cross, Stanley, who keeps me inspired (and covered in cat fur!).
Reflections on MSc CAB Programme
I have been fortunate enough to be involved in the design and delivery of the online MSc Clinical Animal Behaviour from its infancy (initially as Programme Co-ordinator and then as Programme Director from 2017).
I am constantly amazed by the hard work and determination of our students, who come from across the globe and bring with them a wide array of different experiences and perspectives relevant to the field of Clinical Animal Behaviour. Many of our students would not be able to attend an on-campus MSc programme due to family and work commitments, thus the flexibility that part time online learning gives them is really important.
It has been a privilege for me and other members of the CAB Programme team to be involved in the development of several MSc dissertation projects over the last few years. We are also now starting to see some of the CAB Programme alumni publish their work, which is fantastic and we are so proud of what they have achieved.
We are also very excited about the recent addition of a Clinical Animal Behaviour service within the RDSVS Hospital for Small Animals, which Dr Kevin McPeake is in the process of developing (see below). The clinic is a further step towards ensuring that both undergraduate and postgraduate students have the opportunity to learn from real life cases under the care of experts within the field.
Dr. Verity Bowell
I joined the Clinical Animal Behaviour team in 2019 as Programme Coordinator, returning to academia after spending some time running my own dog behaviour and training business and working for an assistance dog charity. Prior to this I had completed my undergraduate degree in zoology at the University of Birmingham before coming to Edinburgh University to take the on-campus MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare.
I then went on to undertake my PhD in primate behaviour and welfare with a specific focus on training at the University of Stirling. I have also spent time working on farm and laboratory-housed animal welfare, further developing my interest in, and knowledge of, scientific research.
Although I fought it for some time, thinking that I wanted to keep my ‘hobbies’ and personal interest in animal training separate from my professional life, it was inevitable that I would end up working in companion animal behaviour. From a young age I had been fascinated by why my pet dogs behaved in the way they did, and what I could do to change that behaviour and make them happier.
My experiences have led to my specific interests in animal training, Assistance Dogs and animals in AAI, animal use in sport and leisure, and also more broadly in animal welfare. Since starting working on the programme I have also developed my interests in the human side of the relationship!
The Clinical Animal Behaviour MSc is such a wonderful programme to work on, bringing together an incredibly wide ranging and interesting group of tutors and students, all with a passion for the animals they work with and for. The online nature of the programme makes it so accessible to so many people for whom a traditional MSc might not normally be an option and this is something which is hugely beneficial, both for the students and the programme.
It means that we have a truly varied group of students. I always feel that I have something to learn from those I teach, and that everyone brings something to the programme which helps us shape the conversations we have and even the direction we take as we continue to update and strengthen our teaching.
It is wonderful to see our students graduate having worked so hard whilst also having jobs, families and all of the other commitments of life. Their tenacity and dedication is inspiring! We are so proud of all that our students achieve, and seeing our students graduate, publish their research, gain CCAB status, and develop their behaviour practices and careers is incredibly fulfilling. I look forward to seeing many more of our students on this journey in the coming years.
Dr Kevin McPeake
I am a Lecturer in Clinical Animal Behaviour, joining the University of Edinburgh Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies team in January 2021. Fulfilling my lifelong goal, I graduated from the University of Glasgow as a veterinary surgeon in 2005, and then worked in a range of first opinion small animal practices across the UK, during which I became interested in clinical animal behaviour.
In 2011, I completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Companion Animal Behaviour Counselling before setting up a behaviour referral clinic in the North East of Scotland until 2014. To advance my knowledge, I then moved to the University of Lincoln to undertake a project researching a novel anti-anxiety medication for dogs, remaining there for a further 5 years.
In that time, I completed a residency in veterinary behavioural medicine passing my board exams to become a Diplomate of the European College of Animal Welfare and Behavioural Medicine. In February 2021 I defended my PhD thesis on frustration in dogs.
I am particularly interested in the interplay between medical problems and behaviour, especially painful conditions which often cause or contribute to the development of behaviour problems.
Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my wife and daughter, our dog and two cats. Having recently returned to my native Scotland I am looking forward to exploring the hills and beaches when weather permits!
Online learning is vitally important to allow students from all over the world to access courses which fit around their lives. I am excited to be able to contribute to the teaching on the MSc Clinical Animal Behaviour. My other role at R(D)SVS is setting up an animal behaviour clinic within the Hospital for Small Animals, which is important as a clinical service and also as a means of teaching clinical animal behaviour to postgraduate and undergraduate students.
I originate from Wales, where in the 1980’s completed a Secretarial in Business qualification at Aberystwyth. My first job was at the Welsh Office Agriculture Department where I worked for 9 years before moving to Scotland when my husband’s post at the Forestry Commission brought him to Edinburgh.
Since living in Scotland (now more years than I lived in Wales) I have worked in a variety of Administrative posts including several PA posts before starting at the Vet School in 2007 as the Undergraduate Year 4 Administrator, where I stayed until I joined the Postgraduate On-Line Programme team in 2014.
I was fortunate to became the Administrator for CAB during its creation and have worked on the Programme ever since. It is good to be a part of the Programme from the very start and to be involved in seeing it grow into one of the most popular on-line Programmes that the Vet School offers. I am lucky to be working with such a great team and enjoy helping our students who come from many different countries world-wide.
I deal with non-academic matters, a small example include; initial Programme enquiries, course enrolments, interruptions of study, releasing of marks and collation of results for Exam Boards, along with many diverse day to day queries from staff and students alike.
When I am not working I love to walk my Border Terrier Alfie who is extremely cheeky and full of character. I am normally kept busy with my grown-up family and 4 grandchildren (Covid permitting) and if I ever get time to myself I enjoy a good book and crafts such as painting, crochet and baking. I am also an avid Rugby fan and enjoy watching Wales in the 6 Nations Championships (especially when we are winning).
Programme E-Learning Co-ordinator
I've been working with digital education at the University of Edinburgh since 2014. In that time I've helped to produce all sorts of online courses, from free courses in Philosophy to postgraduate courses in Nutrition.
I joined the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies in 2018. My role in the Clinical Animal Behaviour team is to help with the technical and the learning design aspects of online education. I help make sure we're taking advantage of the technology we have available and that everything's working as it should be. One day I might be videoing cows in a dairy farm, and the next I might be in a room with lecturers and a wall full of sticky notes.
Clinical Animal Behaviour is a great programme to be a part of. There are lots of novel approaches to teaching that draw on case studies and authentic problems from the world of animal behaviour. Our students interact a lot with each other and there's a nice sense of community.
Before I started working in digital education, I spent 7 years as a teacher. This was mostly in England, but also for a couple of years in Seville, Spain. In my spare time I like cycling, playing guitar, and exploring Scotland's beautiful countryside. At home we have a pet cat called Bonnie and an axolotl called Leo.
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