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Fazio, Jilian

Research Fellow


Background And Education

Education And Training

  • Ph.D., George Mason University , Environmental Science and Public Policy, Assessment of adrenal activity and reproductive cycles during captive management in the fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) 2010 - 2016
  • M.S., George Mason University , Environmental Science and Policy, Behavioral assessment of the clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa); a comparative analysis of reproductive success 2006 - 2010
  • B.S. in Zoology, University of Maryland, College Park 1997 - 2001

Professional Biography

  • Dr. Jilian Fazio began her career at the Smithsonian in 2005, as a full time Animal Keeper. She worked primarily on Asia Trail and also out at the Smithsonian’s Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) with the carnivore team. In 2004, she traveled to the Khao Kheow Open Zoo (KKOZ) in Chonburi, Thailand, to serve as a project assistant for the Clouded Leopard Consortium. In 2008, she returned to KKOZ to perform her M.S. research thesis focused on clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) reproductive success. In 2010, she became an SCBI-GMU Doctoral Fellow and completed her degree in Environmental Science and Public Policy focused on zoological management of the fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus).  She is currently a Research Fellow for the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. Her current work is on Asian elephant welfare and behavior, and a study evaluating how the installation of automatic feeders may affect our elephant’s habitat use, behavior and social interactions. Dr. Fazio is also the Clouded Leopard Species Survival Program® Coordinator and International Studbook Keeper and still works on research focused on felids as well. Prior to NZP, Jilian worked at Disney's Animal Kingdom (Animal Presenter Internship, 2001-2002); International Exotic Animal Sanctuary (Internship Summer 2002; Keeper, 2002-2003) and Bergen County Zoo (Animal Keeper, 2003-2004).

    Dr. Fazio believes strongly that the best science comes from a close collaboration between animal care staff and scientists. Working closely to manage ex situ populations, she has seen how management techniques can change both reproductive success and individual animal welfare. Animal care staff, have an intimate knowledge of the animals they care for and integrating a scientist into their team allows for animal care intuition to be measured quantitatively. Dr. Fazio works to examine how husbandry and management at zoological facilities may affect behavior, social dynamics, health and reproductive success of the species in our care. Transforming the art of animal keeping into science is important to improve the welfare of animals housed at the National Zoo and maintaining sustainability and conservation efforts of species around the world.


Selected Publications


Teaching Overview

  • George Mason University, Fairfax VA

                School of Integrated Studies

                Adjunct Professor, 1/2015 – present

    • Conservation Behavior Course (INTS 403) taught through the College of Integrated Studies at George Mason each Fall. Develop research projects in coordination with animal care staff at the zoo to determine appropriate projects that could improve management or provide information to the staff and then teach students ethogram development, behavioral observations and analysis.

                Department of Environmental Science and Policy

                Graduate Teaching Assistant, 9/2010 – 5/2013

    • Ecology 308 Ecology and Evolution– Taught, upper level undergraduate class focused on scientific writing and statistical analysis with a field component.


Teaching Activities