Featured Speakers

Keynote Speakers

Rebecca A. Johnson, PhD, RN, FAAN, FNAP

Missap Professor of Gerontological Nursing and Public Policy, Sinclair School of Nursing
Professor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine
Director, Research Center for Human Animal Interaction (ReCHAI)
University of Missouri - Columbia

Dr. Rebecca Johnson’s research and outreach focuses on the health benefits of the human-animal interaction. As the Director of ReCHAI, Dr. Johnson promotes better scientific understanding on subjects ranging from exercise motivation for older adults to the benefits of companion animals for children with autism to the effects of equine-assisted activities on PTSD symptoms. She’s authored numerous peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, and her books include Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound: How You and Your Dog Can Lose Weight, Stay Fit, and Have Fun Together and The Health Benefits of Dog Walking for People and Pets: Evidence and Case Studies.

More about Dr. Johnson

Humans and Animals Together: Wellness for Both Ends of the Lead

Humans and animals have lived closely together over thousands of years. This symbiotic relationship was originally rooted in benefits to humans and animals through providing/finding food sources, warmth, and protection. Over time animals—particularly companion animals—have come to play more interactive roles in the lives of people. The gradually evolving science of human-animal interaction (HAI) is showing strong evidence that these roles are physically, emotionally, and socially beneficial for people and companion animals. This presentation will explore the myriad wellness outcomes of HAI for not only people, but for the animals that they keep company with. 


Lise Saffran, MPH, MFA

Director, Master of Public Health Program
School of Health Professions, University of Missouri
Writer of fiction and non-fiction

The Director of Mizzou’s MPH Program, Lise Saffran studied public health at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill and was a Iowa Arts Fellow at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her research areas include global health; public health humanities; and the effects of storytelling on perceptions of risky health behavior.

A writer of fiction and non-fiction, Ms. Saffran’s works include Juno’s Daughters and Family Wanted: True Stories of Adoption.

More about Lise Saffron

Emotional Life: Creative Writing and Public Health



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