Associate Professor Kirrilly Thompson
CQUni’s Appleton Institute in Adelaide, South Australia
Kirrilly Thompson is an Associate Professor at CQUni’s Appleton Institute in Adelaide, South Australia. As a trained anthropologist, Kirrilly specialises in qualitative research techniques including ethnography, interviews, focus groups and observation. She has developed a depth of research around human-animal relations, with a particular emphasis on the cultural dimensions of risk.
These interests are central to her research on mounted bullfighting, human-animal co-sleeping, horse-rider safety, large animal emergency rescue and the disaster preparedness of animal owners. These specialisations are a direct result of her personal interest in animals as a long-time equestrienne and recent dog owner.
Kirrilly’s approach to studying human-animal relations is ethnographic; her primary focus being that of humans, as might be expected of an anthropologist. She also draws from psychology in her efforts to understand how animal custodianship and animal attachment could motivate behaviour change. She termed this the ‘pets as protective factor’ and suggested, for example, that a desire to care for or ’save’ an animal could motivate pet owners to improve their disaster preparedness (especially regarding bushfires), horse riders to wear helmets, or horse owners to engage with large animal rescue training.
Kirilly has been a full-time researcher since 2008, and in that time has worked across a variety of fields, with a diversity of industries and approaches ranging from pure, basic research providing greater knowledge and theorisation of issues, through to strategic, applied research that is solutions-focussed. The breadth of her research is a result of her methodological expertise. Her research has received funding from the Australian Research Council, and has been published in international peer-review journals. In 2015, she was one of ABC Radio National's 'Top 5 Under 40’ Science Communicators, and was the recipient of the Vice-Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Mid-Career Researchers. She is passionate about improving animal welfare and owner responsibility, ending cosmetic testing on animals and live transport of animals intended for consumption, and eliminating barriers to mutually beneficial human-animal interactions (such as regulations around animals in public places, private housing, nursing homes, etc.).