The Convergence of Human & Animal Training and Technology

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Speaker Bios

Brought to you by TAGteach International LLC and RYANO LLC

Theresa McKeon

After more than 30 years as a national level gymnastics coach, Theresa was determined to find a way to speed up skill acquisition for her athletes while simultaneously decreasing stress and fear in the learning environment. Her search for behaviorally sound techniques, clean instructions, and the proper timing of feedback and reinforcement, led to the development of the TAGteach methodology. The success of the methodology has been accented by the wide range of applications embracing it.

Theresa now consults and designs TAGteach programs in multiple fields including: corporate training, industrial safety, medical and surgical training, sport coaching, even family communication. She is a sought after speaker around the world including Europe, U.K., Taiwan, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

Susan Friedman

Susan G. Friedman, Ph.D. is a professor emeritus in the Department of Psychology at Utah State University. She has helped pioneer the cross-species application of behavior analysis to animals, using the same humane philosophy and scientifically sound teaching technology that has been so effective with human learners. Susan has co-authored chapters on behavior change in four veterinary texts, and her popular articles have been translated into 14 languages. She gives seminars on animal learning at conferences and consults with zoos around the world. Susan is a member of Karen Pryor’s Clicker Expo faculty and teaches yearly hands-on animal training workshops with Steve Martin (www.naturalencouters.com). Susan was appointed to the F&WS Condor Recovery Team from 2002 – 2010, after which time the team was retired due to the success of the birds in the wild. She is the Chairperson of the Scientific Advisory Committee of American Humane Association (AHA) Film and TV Unit, and a member in good standing of ABAI, ABMA, IAABC and IAATE. Last year she was included on the Vet Tech College’s list of “15 Animal Professors to Know.” Susan’s acclaimed on-line course, Living and Learning with Animals for behavior professionals, has provided even wider dissemination of effective, humane behavior change practices to students in over 35 countries (www.behaviorworks.org). And she shares fun videos with a science twist at facebook.com/behaviorworks.

T. V. Joe Layng

T. V. Joe Layng has over 40 years of experience in the experimental and applied analysis of behavior with a particular focus on the design of teaching/learning environments. In 1999, he co-founded Headsprout. At Headsprout, Joe led the scientific team that developed the technology that forms the basis of the company’s patented Early Reading and Reading Comprehension online reading programs and science sequence for which he was the chief architect. Recently, Joe co-founded and serves as an advisor to ChangePartner, a company combining basic behavior analytic principles to provide positive behavior change at scale throughout large organizations such as hospitals. Joe earned a Ph.D. in Behavioral Science (biopsychology) at the University of Chicago. At Chicago, working with pigeons, he investigated animal models of psychopathology, specifically the recurrence of pathological patterns (head-banging) as a function of normal behavioral processes. Joe also has extensive clinical behavior analysis experience with a focus on ambulatory schizophrenia, especially the systemic as well as topical treatment of delusional speech and hallucinatory behavior. Joe is a fellow of the Association for Behavior Analysis International and Chairman of the Board of Trustees, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

Ken Ramirez

Ken Ramirez is the Executive Vice-President and Chief Training Officer of Karen Pryor Clicker Training (KPCT) where he oversees the vision, development, and implementation of training education programs for the organization. He also runs the KPCT National Training Center where he teaches courses and seminars year-round. Previously, Ken served as EVP of animal care and animal training at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium, where he developed and supervised animal care and animal health programs, staff training and development as well as public presentation programs for more than 32,000 animals. He worked at Shedd Aquarium for over 25 years. A 40+ year veteran of animal care and training, Ramirez is a biologist and animal behaviorist who has overseen or consulted on training projects for many zoological organizations worldwide. He began his training career working with guide dogs for the visually impaired and has maintained a close affiliation to pet training throughout his career. He hosted two successful seasons of the television series Talk to the Animals that compared pet training to the important work done with training and caring for animals in zoological facilities. He has also worked closely with several search and rescue dog organizations, service dog groups, as well as with bomb and narcotic dogs. Ramirez has been active in several professional organizations, including the International Marine Animal Trainer’s Association (IMATA), of which he is a past president. Ken has been actively involved in the creation of a certification process for animal trainers in zoological settings.

Ramirez has written numerous scientific publications and authored countless popular articles. He authored the book ANIMAL TRAINING: Successful Animal Management through Positive Reinforcement (1999) and Better Together: The Collected Wisdom of Modern Dog Trainers (2017). For 20 years he taught a graduate course on animal training at Western Illinois University.

Ryan O'Donnell

Ryan O'Donnell hails from northern Nevada in the grungy, yet surprisingly classy, (and newly renovated) Reno, Nevada . He likes his climate like he likes his data: evolving, uncompromising, and progressive. He is a master of science; that is, he has a M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis, however he has since grown to include many other interests, including entrepreneurship and capturing perspectives and stories through various mediums. He has used this degree to help organizations improve their systems, build stronger communities, and design and oversee programs and instructional materials for people with disabilities. He is the owner of RYANO, LLC where he lives a non-traditional role that includes event planning and hosting conferences, creating media (e.g., podcasts and videos) related to behavioral science, and product development for various instructional design and technology projects.

His focus outside this role is on building a community of thought leaders and doers to create content that increases the transparency of behavior analytic technologies with the hopes of creating a platform that truly saves the world. His interests are all over, from artificial intelligence and machine learning applications to the theory and philosophy behind Why We Do What We Do (wwdwwdpodcast.com). In his spare time you can find him consuming social media, prepping/climbing a giant mountain, or walking around with his camera in his hand (and, occasionally, all simultaneously). Connect with him on most all social platforms via TheRyanoDotCom or TheDailyBA and let him know what drives you to pursue the behavior analytic vision.

Andy Chavez

Andy Chavez is CEO and co-founder at BehaviorMe, a startup merging virtual reality and behavioral sciences for the greater good of mental health care. Mr. Chavez received a Master of Science in Entrepreneurship from the University of Florida and a Bachelor of Architecture from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. Prior to co-founding BehaviorMe, Mr. Chavez ran an experiential marketing startup and was project manager for two award winning design and build creative agencies based out of New York City. Mr. Chavez instills creative thinking and business processes in an attempt to recognize scalable and sustainable opportunities across all fields of thought, industry, and populations.

Annie Escalante

Annie is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, and a co-founder of BehaviorMe, a virtual reality company producing simulations to teach safety skills. She received her Master of Science in Counseling & Behavior Analysis from Nova Southeastern University and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Florida International University. She has experience working with children and adults with autism and developmental disabilities in a variety of environments including: clinics, schools, and group home settings. Her passion lies in the intersection of technology and innovative approaches to clinical applications. She currently resides in Gainesville, FL with her mischievous rescue, Kylo.

Kathy Sdao

Kathy Sdao is an applied animal behaviorist. She has been a full-time animal trainer for more than thirty years, first with marine mammals and now with dogs and their people. At the University of Hawaii, she received a master’s degree as part of a research team which trained dolphins to solve complex cognitive puzzles. She was then hired by the United States Navy to train dolphins for open-ocean tasks. Next, Kathy worked as a marine-mammal trainer at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma Washington. After leaving the zoo world, Kathy and a colleague created Tacoma’s first dog-daycare facility where Kathy began teaching clicker-training classes.

Since 1998, Kathy has owned Bright Spot Dog Training. Services include consulting with families about their challenging dogs, teaching private lessons, and mentoring professional trainers who want to maximize the power of positive-reinforcement training. Kathy is proud to be an original faculty member for Karen Pryor’s ClickerExpos and has taught at thirty-six of these popular conferences. Kathy also has traveled extensively across the United States, Canada and Europe, and to Australia, Israel, Japan and Mexico, educating students about the science of animal training. In 2012, she published her first book, Plenty in Life Is Free: Reflections on Dogs, Training and Finding Grace.

Susan Schneider

Susan M. Schneider, PhD, is a learning researcher and biopsychologist who has clicker trained her pet rats and budgies. She obtained her graduate education from Brown University and the University of Kansas (behavior analysis). Susan's 25 years of research and teaching produced numerous scientific publications, including pioneering work on generalization and choice. Her award-winning book for the public, The Science of Consequences: How They Affect Genes, Change the Brain, and Impact Our World, describes fundamental learning principles, their role in the larger realm of nature-nurture, and their many applications--including the benefits of positive reinforcement-based animal training.  She keynoted ClickerExpo, WOOF!, and the Art and Science of Animal Training conferences as part of over 100 book tour events across the US and Europe.  The book received advance praise from experts in genetics, neuroscience, and economics, as well as in psychology and animal training. Its worldwide recognition includes coverage in top scientific journal Nature.  Currently a Visiting Scholar at the University of the Pacific in California, she is also Senior Scientist for the behavioral sustainability nonprofit Root Solutions, and for several years has focused her efforts on fighting climate change.

Ann Bergeron

Ms. Bergeron is a certified Level III TAG teacher (Teaching with Acoustical Guidance) and has been using TAG Teach in the training of performing artists for over nine years. She is a Morse-Alumni Distinguished Professor of Theatre at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Ann received her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Fine Arts in Dance from the University of California, Irvine, and Master of Fine Arts in Directing from The University of Texas at Austin.

Ms. Bergeron was recognized as a Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival National Teaching Artist in 2009. She is a two-time Fulbright-Hays Seminar awardee, representing American dance and theatre educators both in the Peoples Republic of China and in India. Her directing, choreographing, teaching, guest workshops, and performances, have taken her across the U.S.A. as well as to China, Australia, England, Finland, Hungary, India, Taiwan, Romania, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

Ann has directed and/or choreographed over 70 musicals and plays. Ms. Bergeron is also recognized by the American Tap Dance Institute as a Top Tap Teacher.

Ann’s teaching career was greatly influenced by her first Border Terrier, Ninja. Ninja, and his brother, Banzai, have both earned their Versatility Excellent titles from the Border Terrier Club of America, having earned titles in Obedience, Rally, Agility, Earthdog, Barn Hunt, Lure Coursing, and Dock Diving. Most recently, Banzai was nationally recognized at the AKC Nationals in 2018 by his induction into the North American Diving Dogs Hall of Fame.

Alex Diaz

Alex is best known for his ability to bridge behavior analysis and software development. He was COO and software developer for the technology company WePortal. Alex holds a PhD in psychology from Florida International University and is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

Alex has worked in a variety of settings to train humans, including as an adjunct professor at Florida International University, supervising trainer at summer camps, in-home with parents and staff, and within a company office setting. His next goal is to design ideal digital training environments and to help others design them for their own needs.

Adam Dreyfus

Adam is the Chief Science Officer and a co-founder of AnswersNow, an innovative mobile app that connects parents of children diagnosed with autism with their own clinician. AnswersNow was born out of the need to better support parents and reduce the barrier of entry for parents to expert advice. He also serves ad the Senior Director at the Sarah Dooley Center for Autism at St. Joseph’s Villa. He came to the Villa after serving the Commonwealth of Virginia as a Technical Assistance Associate at VCU’s Autism Center for Excellence. Adam worked in Region 1 and 8 providing direct services to school divisions, primarily working with Henrico County Public Schools as well as Greensville County Public Schools. He earned his Master’s degree in Special Education/Applied Behavior Analysis from Columbia University’s Teachers College. He studied Verbal Behavior Analysis under Dr. Douglas Greer and was trained in the CABAS system.

Anne Wormald

Anne holds a Masters degree in Applied Disability Studies from Brock University and is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She is a member of the TAGteach Faculty and manages the certification assessment program for TAGteach International. Anne is a pioneer in the integration of TAGteach and precision teaching and was an invited speaker at the International Precision Teaching Conference in 2017 on this topic.

Anne has extensive experience training and teaching people. She is an NCCP Certified Level 2 gymnastics coach, a Level 1 coach for the Canadian Association of Disabled Snowsports and works as a behavior analyst serving both parents and children living with autism. She began her teaching career at age 11, as an assistant helping to teach adults to train their puppies.

Anne has extensive experience with clicker training several species of animals. She was a pioneer in the field of rabbit training. As a child she was a feature trainer in the award winning Clicker Puppy Training DVD. She was the recipient of the Innovation Award and Humane Trainer Award from the International Positive Dog Trainers Association in 2005.

Christy Alligood

Dr. Christy Alligood received an M.A. (2003) from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and a Ph.D. (2007) from West Virginia University. She is also a doctoral-level Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D). She is a lecturer at the University of Florida and a behavior scientist at Disney's Animal Kingdom, where she has worked since 2007. Much of her initial work focused on a multi-faceted conservation program for Key Largo woodrats, which received a Bean Award for Significant Achievement in Captive Breeding from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (2009) and a Federal Challenge Grant (2010) in collaboration with the Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge for population monitoring work on Key Largo. Dr. Alligood now works with the Behavioral Husbandry Team, where she focuses on using the science of behavior to enhance animal care. In addition to peer-reviewed articles building a foundation for this integration, the team has recently published a series of articles in the journal of the American Association of Zoo Keepers on the Science of Behavioral Husbandry, and collaborated on the development and implementation of the first Association of Zoos and Aquariums Professional Development Course on Environmental Enrichment in Zoos and Aquariums. Dr. Alligood is also active in professional service to the field of behavior analysis as the current secretary of the Southeastern Association for Behavior Analysis and a previous At-Large Representative to the Applied Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) Executive Council, Coordinator of the ABAI Special Interest Groups Board, and co-coordinator of the ABAI Applied Animal Behavior Program Area.

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