Our People

Animal Behavior Associates of Washington is owned by James Ha, and our research is conducted by experienced independent consultants coordinated and overseen by him.

James C. Ha, Ph.D. (Owner and Senior Scientist)

jcha_portraitMy academic and practical training is in the social behavior of birds and mammals, with a special focus on highly social species.  My background includes a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Millersville University (1980), a Master’s degree in Biology from Wake Forest University (1983), a Ph.D. in Zoology, with a specialization in animal behavior, from Colorado State University (1989), and professional credentialing as a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist, the highest level of certification in applied behavior.

At the University of Washington since 1990, I am recently retired as a Research Professor in Psychology (Animal Behavior Program) where I continue to teach and conduct research in complex social behavior and coAABClogo_biggnition of several animal species. I specialize in the behavior of birds and mammals, more specifically in dogs and cats, non-human primates, and crows and their kin. I am also a specialist in behavioral data collection methodology (developer of the EVENT-Palm and EVENT-Apps custom-written behavior data collection software), and the management of non-human primate breeding colonies (demographics,behavior, and population genetics).

I founded Animal Behavior Associates of Washington in 1999 and have conducted hundreds of in-home consultations, helping owners develop multidimensional plans to modify the problem behaviors of their companion animals.  In addition, I have acted as an Expert Legal Witness in dozens of criminal and civil cases.  I am a regular contributor to local media, having appeared in local newspapers and on local television news programs on numerous occasions.  Most recently, I have been invited to be a regular monthly contributor to KIRO-Radio’s It’s Raining Cats and Dogs program.


 Daniel S. Ha, Ph.D. (Chief Scientist)

dan at pike place marketMy academic and practical training is in the ecology of fishes, particularly coral reef fish and sharks, with a special focus on bioinformatics. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Millersville University (1993), a Master’s degree from the University of Windsor (Ontario; 1996), and a Ph.D. from The College of William and Mary/Virginia Institute of Marine Science (2006). Most recently I have been on the faculty at Pennsylvania State University where I taught Environmental Science and Biology. I am now a guest lecturer for courses at the University of Washington.

In 2013, I moved to Washington State to put my bioinformatics skills to work for ABAWA. I specialize in moving large existing datasets into modern storage and analysis systems. I am currently expanding my animal behavior training, with the goal of completing the requirements as a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist in the near future.


Renee Robinette Ha, Ph.D. (Scientist)

Renee and Elsie(1)I received my Ph.D. in Animal Behavior from the University of Washington in 1999. I am currently a Research Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology (Animal Behavior Program) at the University of Washington where I teach courses on animal behavior, statistics, introductory psychology, developmental psychology, laboratory on animal learning, and behavioral studies of zoo animals. Most recently, I have been a co-developer of the Certificate Program in Applied Animal Behavior at the University of Washington, a program with a focus on Companion Animals. I have been the Director of the Rota Avian Behavioral Ecology Program in Micronesia since 2005. I bring a strong background in animal behavior and learning theory, statistics, and human psychology to Animal Behavior Associates of Washington.

 More about my work can be found at:

http://faculty.washington.edu/robinet/ and

 http://depts.washington.edu/rabep/index.html


Ellen Yoakum, B.S. (Scientist)

17482_10151482477717826_1756595195_nI received my Bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington (2012) in Psychology with an emphasis on animal behavior. During my undergraduate career, I worked as a research assistant focusing on captive animal welfare.  Post graduation, I have been working in the animal care sector. My focus has been on creating safe environments for dogs to socialize and exercise through dog day-cares. I am constantly in pursuit of opportunities to add breadth and depth to my animal care and behavior experience. I have completed internships focusing on wildlife rehabilitation, and am a graduate of two of Terry Ryan’s “Chicken Camps” focused on learning theory. I have also attended a Guinea Pig training workshop with Dr. Roger Abrantes.

Currently, I manage a dog daycare, intern with Dr. Ha in pet behavior cases, am the course assistant for the Applied Animal Behavior Certificate program at the University of Washington, and assist with research through ABAWA.


Maria Muradas, M.S. (Scientist)

Pic MariaI earned my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2004 and my Master’s degree in Education with a focus in Learning Theory in 2006 from University of Santiago of Compostela in Spain. During my time at University of Santiago of Compostela, I worked as a researcher in different projects centered to improve learning methodologies. I have also earned an Associate degree in Chemistry at the Atlanta Metropolitan State College, GA (2014) where I was awarded a NASA scholarship for a project in Bioinformatics. I also worked on a project to study the shelter behavior in Mithraculus crabs. Finally, I worked in Atlanta for two years as a scent work and obedience dog trainer.

At the moment, I am in pursuit of my Applied Animal Behavior Certificate at University of Washington, interning with Dr. Ha in pet behavior cases, and assisting with research through ABAWA.


Carissa Leeson, M.S. (Scientist)

I have earned two Bachelor’s degrees, in English (1995) and Carissa picPsychology (2002), as well as a Master’s degree in Psychology with a specialization in Animal Behavior and Conservation Biology (2010), from the University of Washington. My academic and practical training is primarily in primate behavior and conservation, where I had the opportunity to study a variety of monkey species in Indonesia, Mexico and China. At the University of Washington, I taught courses on statistics and laboratory classes in animal behavior and animal learning. Since completing my MS, I have been a Psychology faculty member at Seattle Central College, teaching introductory psychology, developmental and physiological psychology, and am delighted to now be providing research support to ABAWA.


Kevin Brown (Engineering Specialist)

kevin_brownI am the engineer-owner of Utility Robotics, LLC.  As such, I primarily specialize in the development of robotic and remote-sensing systems, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), my specialty.  I provide ABAWA with strong engineering support for hardware-based solutions to animal monitoring and behavior measurement.


Shan Duncan, PhD (Computing Science Specialist)

shan duncan portraitI started programming way back in the days of Fortran, Pascal (Oh! Pascal!) and S before it become R along with C before C++. Programming became an important part of my research career during my Ph.D. in Biological Sciences at the University of Wisconsin (primarily auditory signal processing, statistical analysis, and computational phylogenetics). While on a post-doc at Indiana University as the in-house “tech guy” for the Center for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior (CISAB), I was given the opportunity to discover the web and dive into the triple P’s (Python, Perl and PhP) with some unix administration on the side. I served for many years as the Society Manager of the Animal Behavior Society, managing staff, web rescues and herding academics.  Using my skills developed while designing web UI’s for such tasks as grant administration, demographics analysis and data manipulation, I am currently tasked with providing a set of tools to integrate research data with reports for further analysis.

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