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Kathayoon Khalil


Iranian/ Pakistani

Current position: 

Director of Engagement

Current facility:

Zoo Advisors

Year zoo career began:

Kathayoon Khalil, PhD is the Director of Engagement for Zoo Advisors. Prior to joining Zoo Advisors, Kathayoon was the Conservation Impact Manager for the Oregon Zoo and the Principal Evaluator for the Seattle Aquarium. She received her PhD in Learning Sciences and Technology Design from Stanford University, her Masters of Environmental Science from the Yale School of the Environment and her Bachelors in Organismal Biology from Claremont McKenna College.

Kathayoon is a conservation psychologist and a social scientist. As such, Kathayoon oversees the creation and implementation of the zoo’s conservation strategy, as well as all evaluation, visitor studies, and social science research for the Zoo. Additionally, Kathayoon collaborates with colleagues from around the world on research projects to advance our understanding of learning in zoos and aquariums. Kathayoon is also a researcher for Fostering Empathy for Animals, a joint project among the Seattle Aquarium, the Woodland Park Zoo, and the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. In this capacity, Kathayoon participates in publications, public speaking engagements, and conducts workshops on empathy development and measurement.

Kathayoon started her career at as a teen volunteer at the Oregon Zoo and quickly developed a passion for wildlife and conservation. Through over a decade of work in zoo education, Kathayoon has implemented authentic approaches to evaluating visitor learning, including attitude and behavior changes that may have resulted from their visit. Kathayoon is an alumna of the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders program as well as an instructor for Project Dragonfly at Miami University of Ohio and a member of the editorial board for Zoo Biology. Outside of work, Kathayoon runs an art and jewelry business called Otter and Ink Designs. She enjoys yoga, running, gardening, and hanging out with her friends, family, and kitties, Catniss and Cuzco.

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