Past presidents

IAHAIO has been very fortunate to have benefitted from the strong leadership of pioneers in the field of HAI and is grateful for the dedication and commitment of its three past presidents in developing the organisation. IAHAIO continues to build on the strong foundations laid by Prof Sam Ahmedzai (1992-1995), the hard work and dedication of Dr Dennis Turner (1995-2010) and, more recently, the vision and drive of Prof Rebecca Johnson, who served as President of IAHAIO 2010-2016.

Rebecca Johnson, PhD, RN, FAAN


Under the leadership of Prof Johnson, IAHAIO enjoyed a period of substantial growth, increasing its membership to over 80 organisational members. The IAHAIO Board achieved a great deal during her presidency, including highlights such as:

  • The IAHAIO White Paper on AAI Guidelines
  • Collaboration with the Open University of the Netherlands to produce the online learning course Modules in Anthrozoology
  • Two successful international conferences (Chicago, 2013 and Paris, 2016)
  • The establishment of IAHAIO symposia to facilitate international networking in the field
  • The creation of two new IAHAIO awards to recognise outstanding individuals in research and practice in HAI and AAI
  • The establishment of an open-access, peer-reviewed IAHAIO Journal

Rebecca completed graduate research training with her masters of philosophy degree from University of Edinburgh, Scotland (as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar), and her PhD from University of Iowa.  She is the Millsap Professor of Gerontological Nursing & Public Policy at University of Missouri where she holds a joint appointment in the College of Veterinary Medicine for her research on human-companion animal interaction. She founded and directs the Research Center for Human Animal Interaction (ReCHAI) at the MU College of Veterinary Medicine.  ReCHAI’s mission is to conduct and facilitate research on human-animal interaction and to educate students and the public about it. She serves on the Board of Directors for Delta Society, an IAHAIO member organization, and is a special advisor to the Japan Human Animal Nature Bond Society.  In 2007, her research led to her induction into the highly respected American Academy of Nursing (FAAN). In 2009, her undergraduate course, entitled “Human-Companion Animal Interaction” won the Humane Society of the U.S.’ 11th Annual “Animals and Society” Distinguished Established Course Award. Author of many publications in peer reviewed journals, and other venues, she has two books published by Purdue University Press in 2011, “Health Benefits of Dog Walking,” and “Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound.”

Dennis Turner, ScD

Dr Turner provided outstanding leadership to IAHAIO spanning 15 years, during which time he introduced important initiatives which cemented IAHAIO’s role as a major force in the field of HAI on the global stage. His achievements for IAHAIO during his presidency included:

  • Securing an NGO-cooperation agreement with the World Health Organization for 3 years
  • Securing involvement of IAHAIO in the Pet Night event of the European Parliament
  • As a member of the FVE-Executive Steering Committee, securing a 3-year FP-7 grant from the European Commission on ‘Companion animals and zoonoses prevention’ (CALLISTO project) and chairing the Expert Advisory Group on Sociology and Welfare
  • Chairing the Program  or Program and Organizing Committees for the IAHAIO triennial conferences in Geneva (1995), Prague (1998), Rio de Janeiro (2001), Tokyo (2007) and Stockholm (2010)
  • Former president of IAHAIO 1995-2010
  • President of IEMT-Switzerland, 1990 to 2015, Honorary president 2016
  • Private Faculty Member (PD), University of Zurich
  • Invited Professor, Educational Research Program for Anthrozoology, ERCAZ Azabu University, Fuchinobe, Japan (animal-assisted interventions) 2000-2015
  • Trustee and Chair, Scientific Advisory Panel, World Society for the Protection of Animals, WSPA, London to 2012
  • Section Editor, Animal Welfare, Universities Federation for Animal Welfare to 2012
  • Director, Institute for applied Ethology and Animal Psychology, I.E.A.P./I.E.T., Horgen, Switzerland