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Professor Pauleen Bennett HOS Psychology & Public Health, Office Of Psychology & Public Health HOD, Psychology and Counselling, Psychology

I love all aspects of teaching and learning and totally enjoy my work at La Trobe. I feel incredibly lucky to spend every day doing things I enjoy and working with people who are highly committed and inspirational. My current position as head of the department of psychology and counseling really opened my eyes to how fantastic my colleagues are and the wide range of activities they are engaged in.

My own work focuses on human-companion animal relationships, which have fascinated me since my first dog passed away, leaving me absolutely devastated. When I spoke with other people about it I learned that this experience was quite common, and it led me down a path to discover exactly what it is about our animal companions and ourselves that can make these unique inter-species relationships so profoundly important. It turns out there is no single thing and that our relationships with animals are just as diverse as our relationships with other people, but it's proven to be an awesome area to work in. Every day brings a new adventure.

The best part of my work is training students who are equally passionate about what they do, which is sometimes similar to what I do but sometimes not. I also am in the fortunate position of being able to combine my work at La Trobe with a range of community activities designed to improve human-companion animal relationships. I lead a very busy and productive research group (www.anthrozoologyresearchgroup.com), serve on the board of the International Society for Anthrozoology (www.isaz.net), act as associate editor for the journal Anthrozoos, and co-supervise higher degree students enrolled at several Australian Universities.

Being based at the Bendigo campus is also a treat. It's a fantastic place to spend my working days, and I get to spend my free time hanging out on my farm with my dogs, cat, horses and goats - who make me laugh every single day and enrich my life in immeasurable ways.

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