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Photography © 2019 by Sierra Cleveland

sierra joan


ph.d. student in anthropology
university of oregon 
b.s. biology, animal behavior
duke university 2019

My admiration and appreciation for all living things have drawn me to pursue a career in animal behavior. I have experience working with and researching a wide variety of animals including primates, marine life, farm animals, and domestic animals. My vision is to improve captive animal welfare through animal behavior research.





For me, documentary work is a way to explore the human soul, to connect with people on a deeply personal level. Everyone has a story to tell, maybe it's an issue that's relevant to them, or something unique about them that makes them shine. I strive to use photography to capture their lives and share their stories.





Download my CV here or continue scrolling!

About Me


Research Experience

Roth Lab

- Research Assistant -

Jan 2018 -  May 2019

Senior honors thesis project on the morphology of an ontogenetic series of cetacean endocasts in the context of life history and behavior. 3D modeling in Aviso utilizing CT scans of bottlenose dolphins. 

PI: V Louise Roth

San Diego Zoo

- Summer Research Fellow -

May 2018 -  Aug 2018

Applied behavioral research on gorillas, pandas, and vervet monkeys, in the context of animal welfare. Behavioral endocrinology research on the pairing of cheetahs and dogs within the zoo for companionship. Piloting new behavioral data collection apps and technology for the Institute of Conservation Research.​​

PI: Megan Owen

Duke Lemur Center

- Research Assistant -

Aug 2016 -  Dec 2016

Researching the genetic trait that determines color vision in ruffed lemurs. Ran trials with the SMARTA testing system to test the lemurs on their ability to recognize colors.

PI: Ray Vagell

Gluck Equine Research Center

- Research Intern -

May 2016 - Aug 2016

Parasitology research on diagnosis, control, and drug resistance in equine gastrointestinal parasites. Ran egg counts and performed coprocultures for larval identification; also took part in a necropsy to collect specimens. Collected fecal samples from horses and ponies and trained foals for handling in future studies.

PI: Martin Nielsen


Animal Care Experience

Wild Earth Farm & Sanctuary

- Intern -

May 2016 -  Aug 2017

Performed daily care routines for ducks, pigs, cats & kittens, and dogs. Permaculture farming and composting, as well as fundraising and social media campaigning.

Primate Rescue Center

- Volunteer -

May 2016 -  Aug 2017

Assisted caretakers with daily tasks such as food preparation, enrichment and cleaning for the well-being of the various monkeys and chimpanzees living at the sanctuary.

Willow Oak Veterinary Hospital

- Veterinary Intern -

Aug 2015 -  May 2016

Assisted Dr. Cagle as he met with patients, drew blood from animals, took samples, and ran tests, x-rays, and performed dental and surgical procedures.

Duke University School of Medicine

- Zebrafish Facility Technician -

Aug 2015 -  Dec 2015

Cared for the fish in the aquaculture facility used for research. Duties included feeding the fish, changing filters, administering water quality tests and monitoring fish health.


Other Work Experience

Duke Service Learning

- Video Communications Fellow -

Jan 2018 -  Present

Working with the communications team at Duke Service Learning, I do portraiture, conduct interviews, provide technical help with equipment, draft video ideas, edit and produce final video products.

OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon

- DukeEngage Communications Intern -

May 2017 -  Aug 2017

As part of a service-learning program, I worked as a community engagement organizer and communications liaison. Duties included fundraising, graphic design, applying for grants, producing promotional media, running social media campaigns, event planning, and website design and creation. 

Sustainable Duke

- Sustainability Intern -

Aug 2015 -  May 2017

Raised awareness for sustainability as well as designed and implemented a Green Dining Certification in order to motivate vendors to implement more sustainable practices.



Duke University

May 2019

GPA: 3.372

Graduation with Distinction

B.S. Biology, concentration in Animal Behavior
Minor in Environmental Science and Policy
Certificate in Documentary Studies

Activities and Societies: Students for Sustainable Living, Duke Students for Animal Rights, Chi Omega, Penny Pilgram George Women's Leadership Cohort


Relevant coursework:

  • Math: Biostatistics, Calculus 1

  • Biology: Genetics and Evolution, Molecular Biology, Organismal Evolution, Human Physiology

  • Ecology: Behavioral Ecology, Primate Ecology, Ecology for a Crowded Planet, Marine Megafauna

  • Chemistry: Organic Chemistry 1

  • Physics: Physics 1

  • Environmental Science: Changing Oceans, Conserving the Variety of Life, Integrating Environmental Science and Policy

Los Alamitos High School

June 2015

Activities, Societies, Awards: National merit scholar, Japanese National Honors Society, SCUBA Diving (PADI certified), Ecology Club, Chemistry Network, raised and released endangered white sea bass, School Garden, Youth for National Change, Show choir, Website Creation to raise awareness about endangered animals (click here to view), Japanese student exchange program


Contact Me

302D Condon Hall

1321 Kincaid St.

Eugene, OR 97401
Tel: 714-822-9884

  • LinkedIn - Black Circle