Nancy R. Gee, PhD, is Professor of Psychiatry, Bill Balaban Chair in Human Animal Interaction, and the Director of the Center for Human Animal Interaction at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, USA. The Center is uniquely situated in the School of Medicine and in addition to research and educational activities it also houses the “Dogs on Call” therapy dog program, which includes 90+ dog/handler teams who visit patients and staff throughout the VCU health system.
Dr. Gee, President-Elect of the International Society for Anthrozoology, has extensive research and teaching experience and has specialized in the area of Human Animal Interaction (HAI) for the past 17 years. She served for five years as the HAI Research Manager for the Waltham Petcare Science Institute, located in Leicestershire, UK. In this role she managed a large portfolio of collaborative university-based research projects spanning multiple countries and topics, including; how companion animals impact the lives of older adults, or help students learn, or reduce the impact of PTSD symptoms in military veterans. Dr. Gee’s own program of research has focused primarily on the impact of dogs on aspects of human cognition, including working memory, executive functioning and physiological responses such as heart rate variability to interactions with dogs. Currently she is focusing on how hospital-based therapy dog visitation programs may impact loneliness and other health related indices in vulnerable populations such as older adults and people with mental illness.
A recipient of multiple grants and awards, Dr. Gee has more than 50 peer reviewed publications specific to HAI and has edited and contributed to numerous books on the subject. Dr. Gee regularly delivers international presentations on a variety of HAI topics, serves on the editorial review boards of several peer reviewed journals and has actively promoted the field of HAI through participation on the boards of several HAI organizations including the International Society for Anthrozoology and currently as the Chair of Pet Partners’ Human-Animal Bond Advisory Board.