Scientific Advisory Team

Bruce Elfström

Bruce Elfström, professional biologist, expedition training expert, and field logistics coordinator; it was in 2004 while filming an IMAX film in Mongolia when he first became aware of the environmental challenges the nomadic herders of Mongolia face on a daily basis.  The interconnection of pastoral nomads, predator prey relationships, and how this all affects desertification fascinated him.  Ever practical, Bruce began talking to herders and researching livestock protection dogs as a missing link in the complex conservation puzzle. He realized that this was a historical solution to a highly modern problem. Discovering several families still using the original Bankhar dogs in remote areas of Mongolia, Bruce founded Mongolian Bankhar Dog Project in 2011 to put this research into practice.

Adam Boyko PhD

Adam Boyko:  Head Genetics Advisory Team.   Adam and the MBDP have worked together since 2013 on the genetics of domestic dogs and their origin as well as the genetic aspects of landrace animals.  Adam is an assistant professor in Biomedical Sciences at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. His research focuses on genomic investigation of dogs as a model of genetic disease and evolutionary genetics. One aspect of this work is understanding the evolution and genetics of village dogs, the semi-feral pariah dogs found in much of the world today. Dr. Boyko is a graduate of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and received an MS in Computer Science and a PhD in Biology from Purdue University before his postdoctoral research in the Department of Biological Statistics and Computational Biology at Cornell University. He served as a Research Associate in the Genetics Department at the Stanford School of Medicine before beginning his faculty appointment at Cornell in 2011.

Petra Elfström

Petra Elfström Community Outreach Coordinator, Education Advisor and Digital Media Manager.  Born to field work and adventure; Petra’s has worked with or been involved in the MBDP project from its conception in 2003.   A graduate of highest honors from Hamilton Collage, double major in archaeology and creative writing, her experience as a Research Assistant with the Archaeology Department and a CLASS Fellow with the Digital Humanities Initiative (DHi) has only added to her value in the field and otherwise. Working with the DHi and the Slocan Narrows Archaeological Project she was part of a team in the process of creating an educational film about the Slocan Narrows site.  An outstanding writer, skilled film maker, and a trained archeologist, Petra heads up our community outreach endeavors.  Her experience managing archeological digs and years of field experience enhances her skill set to our advantage.  Petra’s future will always involve the MBDP project

Carol Beuchat

Dr Carol Beuchat is the scientific director of the Institute of Canine Biology. Her background in comparative biology and an interest in the biology of dogs motivated the formation of the Institute of Canine Biology as a means of bringing scientists studying various aspects of canine biology together with the dog breeders and owners who have vast collective experience and knowledge of dogs. The increasing number of genetic disorders in dogs are a huge concern for breeders, who lack the tools and resources to address these problems.  At the same time, there is a revolution in genetic research fueled by the discovery of the dog as a model animal in which to study genetic disease in humans.  The possibilities for fruitful interaction between the scientists and the dog breeders and owners are potentially endless.

Orysia Dawydiak

Orysia Dawydiak is the author of ‘Livestock Protection Dogs – Selection, Care and Training’. She has been the long-time editor of the Akbash Sentinel, as well as a breeder and importer of Akbash livestock protection dogs from Turkey.

Zoë Lieb

Zoë Lieb graduated from Connecticut College in 2013 where she majored in ecological biology and anthropology. Since then she has worked in a variety of jobs ranging from botany technician to marine observer to wilderness therapy guide. She is an avid traveler and enjoys sharing her journeys through writing and photography. Zoë began her work in Mongolia in November 2016 and is excited to see the project grow and positively impact wildlife and herding communities alike.