GradImpact: Leader of the Pack

GradImpact: Leader of the Pack

Lawrence is a 2nd year Ph.D. student in the Animal Behavior & Cognition Lab, under Dr. Doris Bitler-Davis. Has been featured in the Council of Graduate Schools for his impact in leadership studies and human and animal interaction studies with the military.  

He was commissioned in the Army in 2004, as a Military Intelligence officer. He was stationed in Germany and deployed to Iraq, but a neurological illness during deployment ended his active duty career. During his 18-month rehabilitation, he participated in the inaugural session of the Dog Tags training program with the Washington Humane Society in DC, which covered dog training techniques, behavioral assessments, and animal care & management. During his time within the program, he developed strong interests in animal behavior and animal social dynamics related to leadership. He was struck by the commonalities between human and animal social organization. In particular, he was impressed by the way leadership in both species was grounded in the fundamentals of interaction. Minnis began to wonder if it was possible to uncover laws that governed leadership and if those laws were generalizable beyond human beings.

Military interaction with K-9 units

At George Mason University, Minnis has expanded on his initial interest in how humans and dogs share certain social dynamics into the realms of leadership studies, human-canine interaction, and how humans perceive canine behavior. He has learned new research techniques, like neuroimaging, that will allow him to better understand the physiological process that is expressed in social relations. Minnis wants to use his knowledge to give back to the humane animal adoption community that supported him during his rehabilitation. He is currently working on a study about the decision-making process underpinning animal adoption with the hope of better promoting the practice of humane animal adoption techniques. He wants to apply the findings from his research at shelters in the Washington Metro area.

His diverse interests include leadership studies, human perception of canine behavior, human-canine interaction benefits and attachment levels, and neuroimaging study. His current research efforts are intended to benefit the humane animal adoption community. He is currently developing theory on the animal adoption decision-making process and planning a research study that will several humane adoption centers in the DC Metro area.

To see the GradImpact website and Minnis' article, click here!