Picture of Kirsten Welborn holding her dog

Kirsten Welborn


B.S., Animal Science, Michigan State University, 2019
M.S. in Animals and Public Policy, Tufts University, 2022


Current Position: Research Associate, Charles River Laboratories

What were you doing before entering the M.S. in Animals and Public Policy (MAPP) program?
I studied at Michigan State, where I majored in Animal Science where I concentrated in Companion and Exotic Animal Management, but also instead of double-majoring, took many Zoology courses as that was another large area of interest to me. After graduating from Michigan State in 2019, I spent over a year working in biomedical research at Charles River Laboratories in Mattawan, MI working specifically in Pre-Clinical Safety Assessment in my role as a Research Technician focused in Small Animal General Toxicology. It has been incredible gaining experience working onsite at the world’s largest single site pre-clinical facility. I also adopted an adorable rescue puppy from Missouri in August of 2019 and I get to enjoy exploring his intelligence and company (although he is staying at home in MI this year).

What aspects of MAPP led to your decision to join the program?
To be honest, I don’t have a clear-cut answer. I stumbled upon the program from a Google Search a few years ago, after I took up an interest in Animal Welfare and Behavior. My education has been entirely defined as a journey and not a destination where I’ve fully known my direction. MAPP is a program that offers a lot of options for students to choose from to personalize their experience, it wasn’t just a mold that everyone comes out the same from. I’ve also always felt a connection and passion for animals and desired to understand more about human-animal interactions. I never really desired to become a vet as my interests were different than that, but I wanted to work with and for animals. The MAPP program checked a lot of the boxes and was unlike anything else out there.

Interests in and experience with animals prior to joining the MAPP program?
From the day I was brought home from the hospital up till today, I always had a pet around me. Trips to the zoo, whether with family or through school, were something that excited me, brought me so much joy, and were a staple place to visit when traveling. I just always have had a natural inclination and connection to animals, that made me desire to be around and with animals. Whether it was walking my or my neighbor’s dogs, pet sitting, or animals at summer camp nature centers, if there were animals to see and learn about, I would be there. When I was younger, I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian, but I also wanted to be a garbage man, law enforcement officer, fireman, engineer, and whatever else my career dreams morphed into as I grew up. Simply put: I was the typical student in my undergraduate courses who raised their hand to the question “How many of you are here because you would rather work with animals rather than people?” In my undergraduate career is where I found that there were careers working with and for animals, that go beyond being a veterinarian or animal agricultural worker. Today I get to work with animals daily at my job and it is fulfilling to both work with the animals, but also see the difference they make in the world through research.

What are your outside interests?
I enjoy the outdoors and staying active, whether it is playing competitive and recreational ultimate frisbee, long-distance running, kayaking, working out, or taking a hike. I also don’t mind a night in reading, watching movies, or streaming TV shows. I also enjoy reading a bunch of “Dad Jokes” as well as sharing my fluency in puns.

Number of pets? What?
I have one dog of my own. A one-year old Border Collie mix named Rizzo.

MAPP Externship

I spent my summer working with Brown University’s Center for Animal Resources and Education (CARE) where I studied compassion fatigue (CF) in laboratory animal professionals. I spent the summer researching CF, compiling articles, meeting with CF experts, creating and developing training materials, and presenting to staff at Brown. Although my externship was remote, I had the opportunity to tour Brown’s facility in Providence, RI and host meetings with staff, where I learned about their experiences with CF. Through MAPP coursework, I expanded my knowledge within the animal research field and was provoked to examine how people issues are intertwined with the animal issues. Early on in the MAPP program, there was a lecture where the speaker said “caring for animals means caring for people.” And I am excited to do just that. Throughout the program I was employed full-time at Charles River Laboratories, where I am continuing my career with expanded roles as on the compassion fatigue team and corporate resiliency building ambassador (RBA) at my site.