Liv Baker

Undergraduate Discipline


BA, Mount Holyoke College. MSc, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. PhD, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. A conservation behaviorist and expert in wild animal wellbeing, her research focuses on human-animal relationships and how individual animals engage with their environments; the roles wild animals have in the health of their social groups, cultures, and populations—exploring the similar patterns of well-being and behavior seen across the animal kingdom; seeing that animals want to learn about and hold sway over their lives; that good psychological health corresponds to good physical health; that social context matters; and that positive emotions and challenges are not luxuries but are integral elements to being alive. Conservation and well-being research involves a range of wild animals, including elephants, primates, arachnids, rodents, and macropods. Select recent publications include, “Psycho-ecological autonomy and wildness: An observational study of rewilded Asian elephants in Thailand (forthcoming); “Conservation, Animal Well-being, and Indigenous Participation at an Elephant Sanctuary in Mondulkiri, Cambodia” (2023); “Ethics, Well-being, and Wild Lives (2023); “Asian elephant rescue, rehabilitation, and rewilding” (2020). SLC, 2023–

Undergraduate Courses 2023-2024


Animal Behavior

Open, Seminar—Fall

Behavior is the complex manifestation of multifaceted phenomena. Behavior involves the integration, synthesis, and sorting of vast amounts of biological information—from the molecular, cellular, and physiological to the cognitive, emotional, and psychological. Genetics, lived experience, embodied knowledge, and evolutionary legacy are all at play in the existence, persistence, and shaping of behavioral expression within and across lineages. Studying behavior provides insight into the interior lives of other animals and how they relate to and respond to their worlds, including a better understanding of their abilities to contend with environmental, social, and emotional challenges. Behavior can be studied at the level of the individual, group, and species. Studying animal behavior also provides awareness into our own species. In this course, we will explore the fascinating and complex world of other animals through the lens of behavior. We will begin to understand the relationship between nonhuman animal and human behavior, realizing that an understanding of human behavior depends to a large part on understanding nonhuman animals. We will develop skills to articulate the evolutionary history of a species’ behavior, the developmental history of an individual’s behavior, and the impact of evolution and development on natural selection. We will also investigate anthropogenic effects on animal behavior and begin to understand and articulate the ethical dilemmas posed when studying animals.