sierra joan


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, welfare, and husbandry. I have experience caring for and researching a wide variety of animals including primates, marine life, equines, farm animals, and domestic animals. As an aspiring animal care professional, my vision is to ultimately improve captive animal welfare through practice and 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


Animal Care Experience

Wild Earth Farm & Sanctuary

- Animal Care Intern/Volunteer -

May 2016 -  Aug 2016

May 2017 - Present

Inspected and maintained habitat and facilities, enhanced habitats with enrichment, prepared animal diets, and monitored health and behavioral changes in domestic animals, farm animals, and injured wildlife. Permaculture farming and composting. Managed social media fundraising campaigns that raised over $800.

Primate Rescue Center

- Volunteer Primate Caregiver-

May 2016 -  Aug 2017

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

Willow Oak Veterinary Hospital

- Veterinary Intern -

Aug 2015 -  May 2016

Observed medical procedures and handled small domestic animals as the veterinarian and his technicians drew blood, took samples, and ran tests. Cared for sick/recovering animals under the veterinarian's instructions


Duke University School of Medicine

- Animal Care Technician -

Aug 2015 -  Jan 2016

Cared for thousands of zebrafish in the aquaculture facility used for research. Duties included feeding the fish, changing filters, administering water quality tests, monitoring fish health, and maintaining an Artemia hatchery for food.


Research Experience

(click titles to learn more)

Roth Lab

- Marine Mammal Research Assistant -

Jan 2018 -  May 2019

Senior honors thesis project on the morphology and anatomy 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

- Research Fellow -

May 2018 -  Aug 2018

Applied behavioral research on anticipatory behavior in gorillas in the context of animal welfare. Assisted in behavioral endocrinology research on the pairing of cheetahs and dogs within the zoo for companionship. Piloted 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. Trained lemurs to run trials with the SMARTA testing system to test the lemurs on their ability to recognize colors, and maintained database of trials.

PI: Ray Vagell

Gluck Equine Research Center

- Research Assistant -

May 2016 - Aug 2016

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

PI: Martin Nielsen

University of West Florida

- Research Assistant -

June 2014 -  Aug 2014

Researching photochemical and pyrogenic changes in Deepwater Horizon Oils and their effects on marine microbial production. Performed DNA extraction, cloning, PCR amplification, and assays.

PI: Wade Jeffrey


Other Work Experience

Duke Service-Learning

- Video Communications Fellow -

Jan 2018 -  May 2019

Working with the communications team at Duke Service Learning, I scripted video ideas, edited and produced final video products to promote Service-Learning courses, produced promotional media for the Service-Learning website (event photography, faculty/staff portraits, and informational videos). I also developed positive relationships with faculty and conducted interviews about their Service-Learning courses and
provided technical help with equipment during shoots.

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. I produced promotional media for political awareness campaigns (graphics, photographs, videos) and managed OPAL’s online presence by generating multimedia content for various social media platforms. I also created content (infographics and blogs) for OPAL’s website. I applied for grants and worked with a team to plan, organize, and orchestrate a successful fundraiser that raised $40,000. I fundraised through canvassing and various online campaigns leading to 45 new donors and an increase in average gifts by 20%

Sustainable Duke

- Sustainability Intern -

Aug 2015 -  May 2017

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



University of Oregon

Sept 2019 - March 2020

Ph.D Student in Biological Anthropology

Completed Graduate Coursework:

Introduction to Physical Anthropology

Proseminar in Anthropology

Grad Practicum

Grant Writing

Duke University

Aug 2015 - May 2019

GPA: 3.396

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, HEAR at Duke, FEMMES at Duke


Relevant science coursework:

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

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

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

Other: Biostatistics, Calculus 1, Organic Chemistry 1, Physics 1

Relevant media coursework and projects:

(click to view)

Traditions in Documentary Studies 
Introduction to Audio Documentary

Multiracialism in White America

In the mind of a woman” 

Two stories” 

Digital Documentary Photography (Service-Learning)

Nizhoni Henry: A Supergirl” 

Small Town USA (Service-Learning)

Helen of Hillsborough” 

Contemporary Documentary Film

Back to the Neighborhood” 

Documentary Studies Capstone


Los Alamitos High School

Sept 2011 - June 2015

 Awards: National merit scholar, SCUBA Diving (PADI Open Water certified)

Societies: Japanese National Honors Society, Ecology Club, Chemistry Network,

Activities: School Garden, Show choir, Website Creation to raise awareness about endangered animals (click here to view), Japanese student exchange program, collaborated with Hubbs Sea World to raise and release endangered white sea bass


Professional Organizations

Association of Zoos and Aquariums

Animal Behavior Society

The Wildlife Society
American Association of Physical Anthropologists

International Marine Animal Trainers' Association

Society for Marine Mammalogy

Chi Omega Fraternity


Contact Me

302D Condon Hall

1321 Kincaid St.

Eugene, OR 97401



Tel: 714-822-9884

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