Sarah Leighton

Graduate Student, Social Psychology Faculty Advisors: Matthias Mehl & Margaret O'Haire

Sarah Leighton

Graduate Student, Social Psychology Faculty Advisors: Matthias Mehl & Margaret O'Haire

Currently, I am pursuing a PhD with Dr. Maggie O’Haire and the OHAIRE Lab, which I joined in 2021. Prior to this program, I worked for a national non-profit service dog provider for over 10 years, first as a service dog trainer and most recently as National Director of Training and Client Services. I was closely involved in the research and development of programs to place service dogs with disabilities, including the launch of a program to place service dogs with military veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Research Interests:

  • Examining the role of human-animal interaction in enhancing human mental health and wellness.
  • Understanding the influence of service dogs on biopsychosocial outcomes for individuals with disabilities, including veterans with PTSD and children with autism.
  • Growing the empirical evidence base underlying the complimentary intervention of service dog placement.

Selected Publications:

  • Leighton, S.C., Nieforth, L.O., Griffin, T.C., O’Haire, M.E. (2022). Researcher-practitioner interaction: collaboration to advance the field of human-animal interaction. Human-Animal Interactions. https://doi.org/10.1079/hai.2022.0025
  • Leighton, S.C., Nieforth, L.O., O’Haire, M.E. (2022). Assistance dogs for military veterans with PTSD: A systematic review, meta-analysis, and meta-synthesis. PLoS ONE. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0274960
  • Richerson, J. T., Saunders, G. H., Skelton, K., Abrams, T., Storzbach, D., Fallon, M. T., Biswas, K., Wagner, T. H., Magruder, K. M., Stock, E. M., Mi, Z., Beaver, B. V., McGovern, S. R., Dorn, P. A., Huang, G. D., Frakt, A., Pizer, S., Birman Leighton, S., Kennedy, B. S., … Groer, S. (2020). A randomized trial of differential effectiveness of service dog pairing to improve quality of life for veterans with PTSD (p. 186). Department of Veterans Affairs. https://www.research.va.gov/REPORT-Study-of-Costs-and-Benefits-Associat…
  • Birman Leighton, S. (2021). Changing lives, one service dog at a time. In L. Kogan & P. Erdman (Eds.) Career Paths in Human-Animal Interaction for Social and Behavioral Scientists (pp. 88-89). Routledge Press. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429347283-32

Updated: 12/20/22

Degrees

  • B.A. Biological Sciences – Neurobiology & Behavior, Cornell University (2009)
  • M.S. Human-Animal Interaction, Purdue University (2022)
Ph.D. Students Social
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Human-Animal Interaction (HAI) House
915 N Tyndall Ave