Genetics and Behavior with Dr. Jessica Hekman and Trish McMillan

We have two incredibly intelligent and talented guests today to talk about a complicated and sometimes controversial subject; genetics and behavior. I promise this is worth listening to, and our guests bring a unique mix of scientific and practical knowledge that makes this episode one you don't want to miss.


Dr. Jessica Hekman is a postdoctoral associate at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and teaches online classes about the biology and genetics of canine behavior. Jessica received her Ph.D. in Animal Sciences (Genetics, Genomics, and Bioinformatics) in 2017 from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, where she studied canid behavioral genetics. Previously, Jessica graduated from the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in 2012 with a dual DVM/MS degree. Her Master's work was on the behavior and cortisol responses of healthy dogs to being hospitalized overnight. She also completed a shelter medicine veterinary internship at the University of Florida Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program. Jessica's current work focuses on the genetics of behavior in both pet and working dogs through a citizen science approach.

She’s also on the Darwins Ark team; a group that is working with pet owners to answer important scientific questions about genetics and behavior in dogs. I highly recommend you check that out at You can also view Dr. Hekman's website at and her research at 

Trish McMillan is a certified professional dog trainer and certified dog behavior consultant who holds a Master’s degree in Animal Behavior from the University of Exeter in England. She is an internationally recognized speaker, sharing her expertise in behavior modification, defensive handling, and animal welfare to trainers, shelter workers, veterinarians & vet techs, and dog daycares across the country and around the world. She specializes in training and behavior modification work with dogs, cats, and horses. 

Trish spent 7 years with the ASPCA, where she gained a wide variety of experience in the field of animal behavior. For three years she was the director of the animal behavior department at the ASPCA’s New York City shelter, helping staff, volunteers, and adopters work with animals and make great matches. Trish has also helped assess and rehabilitate animals from cruelty, hoarding, and dogfighting cases, as well as pets rescued from natural disasters. In addition to writing for the ASPCA’s Virtual Pet Behaviorist and other publications, she helped create and present several very popular webinars on dog and cat behavior and handling for the ASPCA Pro website.

When she is not traveling around educating animal professionals, she lives at her farm, Pibble Hill in Asheville, NC, with a host of very cool animals including her (famous) pitbull Theodore, and sees clients through her consulting business, McMillan Animal Behavior. She is also Vice President of Behavior and Training with Instinct Dog Behavior & Training. Also, check out Pibble Hill and Pibbling with Theodore on Facebook (I misspelled this in the episode). I promise you’re missing out if you aren’t following her.

Podden och tillhörande omslagsbild på den här sidan tillhör Brian Burton and Sarah Fraser. Innehållet i podden är skapat av Brian Burton and Sarah Fraser och inte av, eller tillsammans med, Poddtoppen.