Michael Noonan, PhD

The Canisius Ambassadors for Conservation program is directed by Dr Michael Noonan

At Canisius College in Buffalo, New York (USA), Dr Noonan is Professor of Biology, Chair of Animal Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation, and Director of the Master's Program in Anthrozoology.  He is also Founder and Director of the Institute for the Study of Human-Animal Relations.  As an scholar, Dr Noonan's research focuses on the welfare and behavior of animals held in zoological institutions.  Most recently, his projects have investigated social-cognition in captive whales. 

As a teacher, Dr Noonan feels strongly about the importance of getting students out of the classroom so that he can teach lessons in real-world situations.  As a consequence, Dr Noonan has led more than ninety field trips to distant locales.  In the CAC program, Canisius students travel with Dr Noonan for field studies at the front lines of wildlife conservation.  Upon their return to Western New York, the students go on to become advocates of wildlife conservation in the wider community.  The CAC students fall in love with wildlife via unforgettable encounters, and then they spread that same love for wildlife via their infectious enthusiasm. 

In the Canisius Ambassadors for Conservation program Dr Noonan’s emphasis is to keep the message upbeat and constructive.  He feels it is important to counteract a troubling trend toward pessimism in today’s young people.  “In the latest decade we too often encounter people who have feelings of dread about the future,” Noonan says.  “It is particularly sad to find attitudes like that in children.  They are the people who are supposed to full of dreams about making their world a better place!  The CAC program does not gloss over the very real challenges that we all face.  But the story of wildlife conservation over the past century has been a positive one, with many very substantial successes.  It is my belief that a pessimistic attitude is both unwarranted and counter-productive.  We should tell young people to just look at the resurgence of the great whales as an example of a positive change that humanity can affect when it is determined to do so.  The American Bison, the California Condor, and many other species tell similar stories.  It is never easy, but wildlife can be preserved.  People do have the ability to leave the world a better place.  That is the message of CAC.” 


Content provided by Canisius College students under the direction of Michael Noonan, PhD.