Lab Members


Dr. Bransford has a B.S. in Environmental Science and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Evolutionary Anthropology. His past work is primarily with wild primates, having studied a variety of species in Asia, Africa, and Central America. Dr. Bransford joined Eckerd College in Fall 2020 and is very much looking forward to working with students both in the Tampa Bay area and abroad! He is originally from San Antonio, TX. Growing up he spent much time in West Texas, and was particularly fascinated with the bat species of the arid desert. Now, he enjoys exploring the much-more-tropical habitats around the Tampa Bay region (both by land and kayak, as seen above). Contact Dr. Bransford: 

bransftd [at]

Ava Shepard-Cano

Student Researcher

Ava is a junior from Waterloo, Iowa, who is currently majoring in Animal Studies and minoring in Biology and Japanese. Ever since they were a child, Ava knew that they wanted to care for and advocate for animals and began pursuing this by volunteering at the Sunrise Children's Zoo and Cedar Bend Humane Society while in high school. They continued to pursue animal husbandry in the summer of 2023 when they interned as a Primate Husbandry Intern at the Lemur Conservation Foundation. After learning so much about lemurs and animal husbandry, Ava is extremely excited to work with the CBLab and aspires to pursue a career in animal husbandry and conservation, specifically with endangered species. 

Hailey Eckelman 

Student Researcher

Hailey is an Animal Studies major from Howell, New Jersey. Her love for animals started as a toddler, searching for bugs in the garden of her childhood backyard. In her first year of college, Hailey enjoyed volunteering at an animal rescue farm in New Jersey. After transferring to Eckerd, she completed a behavioral research internship at ZooTampa. Her career interests include animal behavior research and rescue and rehabilitation. Hailey is thrilled to begin working with the CBLab on the ZooTampa Orangutan Behavior project. 

Project: ZooTampa Orangutan Behavior

Paige Davenport 

Student Researcher

Paige is an animal studies major with a biology minor. She has always had a heart for animal conservation and has worked as a zookeeper since she was 17. In the past, she has interned as a vet technician, worked as an animal husbandry assistant for the Tampa Bay Watch, volunteered at Care for Wild in South Africa, and worked with a graduate student to research how frogs are affected by urbanization. She is currently on the rescue and rehab team at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, working at Busch Gardens on the Veldt and Rhino team. Paige is very excited to join the Zootampa Orangutan Behavior Project and be a part of the CBLab.

Project: ZooTampa Orangutan Behavior

Maddie Enman

Student Researcher

Although Maddie Enman grew up in Chicago, IL, she has always been drawn to the ocean and animals and knew in middle school that she wanted to attend Eckerd. Growing up she always had a full house of pets- dogs, cats, guinea pigs, chameleons. She became more involved with animals when she came to Eckerd as she joined several animal behavior research projects. Maddie is looking forward to starting her work in CBLab and is excited to see what the next few semesters have in store.

Project: ZooTampa Orangutan Behavior

Jessica Hughes

Student Researcher

Jessica is a junior majoring in Marine Science and Animal Studies from South Africa and Dubai, UAE. During her time at Eckerd, Jessica has volunteered for the FWC Marine Mammal Pathobiology Lab, worked on a student-led horseshoe crab research project, and interned at Clearwater Audubon Society before serving on their Conservation Committee. Her favorite taxon is Testudines, and she loves spotting sea turtles while SCUBA diving. After graduation, she hopes to research marine organisms and eventually teach in related fields. Jessica is delighted to be a part of the CBLab.  

Project: Black Skimmer Behavior

Gabby Fulford

Student Researcher

Gabby is a double major in Animal Studies and Psychology with a minor in Spanish. She is from Overland Park, Kansas and has grown up surrounded by animals. She knew from a young age that she wanted to work with animals for the rest of her life! She started volunteering at her local animal shelter at the young age of 8 and continued to regularly volunteer there until she left for college at 17. She was also surrounded by dogs her whole life as her family fostered behavior and hospice dogs from her local animal shelter. This helped her gain experience in animal behavior, training, and care, which solidified her interest in working with animals. Gabby is very excited to work with Dr. Bransford and the other student researchers in this unique opportunity, and hopes this helps her get additional experience in her chosen field, Primatology 

Cassidy Taylor

Student Researcher

Cassidy is a junior from Port St. Lucie, Florida. She is pursuing a double major in animal studies and human development, and a minor in Psychology. Cassidy has always had a love for animals and an interest in animal behavior. As a child, she loved to be outside and her favorite place to go was the zoo! Cassidy began the ZooTampa Orangutan behavior project as a first-year research associate. During her sophomore year, she became the project manager. She fell in love with behavioral research and the primates at ZooTampa. During her time at Eckerd, Cassidy has been a part of the Comparative Psychology Lab, Title IX Council, and worked as an environmental education intern for Tampa Bay Watch. Cassidy’s career interests include animal-assisted interventions, social work, and animal behavior research and training. Cassidy is excited to continue her work as a member of the CBLab.

Past and Honorary Members:

Katie Willgohs, Class of 2021

Charlotte Baird, Class of 2022

Courtney Cryan, Class of 2022

Aubree Fisher, Class of 2022 

Taylor Fisher, Class of 2023

Nancy Strever, Class of 2024