Catherine Cummings hugging an elephant's trunk

Catherine Cummings


B.S., Cell and Molecular Biology, State University of New York at New Paltz (SUNY New Paltz), 2018
Advanced Certificate, Animal Behavior and Conservation, CUNY Hunter College, 2020
M.S. in Animals and Public Policy, Tufts University, 2021


Current Position:
Ph.D. Student, Conservation Governance Lab; Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences

In what ways do you use your MAPP in your current position?
Currently, I am using so many of the skills I learned in MAPP in my current positions. I am currently a Ph.D. student at Auburn University and I believe that a majority of the classes have prepared me for success in this position. Particularly I am utilizing skills that I learned through Research Methods, Public Policy Analysis, and Communicating Policy Positions. I think I have utilized skills from all the additional classes as well, but these three classes, in particular, have influenced my success.

What were you doing before entering the Masters in Animals and Public Policy (MAPP) program?
After graduating college, I interned for a year at Green Chimneys, a non-profit organization which provides residential and day treatment for students aged 5-18. I worked between two of the animal care areas, the farm animal barn and the wildlife rehabilitation center. Green Chimneys is a K-12 school for children with special needs and behavioral issues. This internship allowed me to work directly with animals and children by facilitating human-animal interactions. During my time with Green Chimneys I began searching for graduate programs which could expand my knowledge on animal behavior and human-animal interactions. The past year I pursued an Advanced Certificate in Animal Behavior and Conservation at Hunter College.

Tell us about your MAPP project or preceptorship. In what ways did it help you form your career goals?
I worked with Dr. Jennifer Jackman on her research project titled ‘Human Dimension of Rebounding Populations of Seals and White Sharks on Cape Cod, Massachusetts’. I got to work directly on a research project and experience the original process of how to distribute a survey, collect data, organize data, and recruit individuals to take our survey. This experience as helped prepare me for my Ph.D. as I will be creating and distributing a survey for stakeholders.

What did you like most about the MAPP program?
One of the best parts about MAPP is the sense of family– from faculty to peers I knew I could count on anyone if I ever had a question to concern to be by my side helping me along the way. Every day I got to learn something new and I am very appreciative of it!

Is there anything else you would like to share with prospective MAPP students?
Enjoy every moment of the program! It is going to fly by in an instant! Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions via LinkedIn.

MAPP Externship

This summer I worked with Dr. Jennifer Jackman on her multi-institutional and organizational research study titled “Human Dimension of Rebounding Populations of Seals and White Sharks on Cape Cod, MA” as a graduate research assistant. I assisted specifically with the commercial fishermen portion of the study where I learned how to distribute surveys, manage data, and correspond with fishermen. While managing one portion of the study, I assisted with the other areas including the voter and tourist surveys. I am unable to pinpoint a specific class which helped me excel at my externship—I think all the classes gave me aspects which helped me succeed. As for my future, I can say with great pleasure that I am pursuing a PhD degree in Wildlife Sciences and Public Policy at Auburn University, and the experiences I gained from MAPP have helped provide me with the tools to be successful!