top of page


About me:

Shelby Elaine McDonald, PhD, MSW

Shelby E. McDonald, PhD. 

I am an interdisciplinary researcher who studies the intersection of human and animal health and wellbeing, with a focus on human populations that experience health disparities and related social determinants of health. I currently serve as Director of Community Research and Evaluation for the Denver Zoological Foundation, an organization that works to improve our planet for wild animals, wild places and future generations. My research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Human-Animal Bond Research Initiative, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and other competitive funding mechanisms. I am a former Fellow of the Oxford University Centre for Animal Ethics and was recently featured by as one of 11 notable womxn changing the pet world.


In addition to my work at Denver Zoological Foundation, I am an affiliate faculty member at the Clark-Hill Institute for Positive Youth Development, a CDC-funded violence prevention center at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). I am also an affiliate faculty member with the VCU Department of Psychology and School of Social Work, where I was previously employed as a tenured associate professor. My past employment also includes the role of Director of Research at the ASPCA.

I live in Aurora, CO, and share my home with four zestful rescue dogs (Lemon, Newton, Fawkes, and Francis).

bottom of page