Gitanjali E. Gnanadesikan

PhD Candidate, NSF GRF, P.E.O. Scholar

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I am a PhD candidate at the University of Arizona in the School of Anthropology. My research focuses on cognitive evolution and social behavior, especially in domesticated species. I am particularly interested in exploring the biological underpinnings of behavior and cognition, including genetics, epigenetics, and hormones. I graduated from Princeton University in 2014 with a bachelors degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

My senior thesis examined differences in genetic regulation (methylation) between dogs and wolves. After graduation, I spent a year teaching English and music in an elementary school in rural China. Before beginning my graduate studies, I worked as the laboratory coordinator for the Arizona Canine Cognition Center, where I am continuing my graduate research as a student in biological anthropology, with a minor in cognitive science.

My dissertation will explore the biological bases of behavior and cognition in a working dog population, Canine Companions for Independence, with multiple behavioral genetic and endocrinology approaches. In the process, I have also been working to develop improved methods of measuring oxytocin and vasopressin in a variety of species and biological matrices.