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A life of service to animal welfare recognised

UFAW Medal awarded in acknowledgement of exceptional contribution to the welfare of animals over 40 years

The 2021 winner of the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW) Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Animal Welfare Science has been announced as Professor Emeritus Joy Mench.

The UFAW Medal recognises exceptional achievements of individual scientists who have made fundamental contributions to the advancement of animal welfare over a number of years. The award is open to individuals, anywhere in the world, whose research, teaching, service and advocacy has significantly benefited the welfare of animals. UFAW was very pleased this year to recognise Joy Mench’s remarkable achievements over a 40 year career which has encompassed improving the welfare of farm, companion, zoo and laboratory animals.

Professor Mench was nominated for this award by Professor Cassandra Tucker, Director of the Center for Animal Welfare, UC Davis, California, who said: “Professor Mench has had widespread influence, in part, because she lives a life of service.  She is brilliant at translating science into practice for day-to-day care of animals.  Her brilliance is characterised by her quick wit, her compassion and her ability to include and address many perspectives… She has made fundamental contributions to the advancement of animal welfare through her research, service, teaching and diplomatic advocacy. Captive animals live better lives because of Joy Mench.”

Joy Mench graduated from San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California, in 1976 with a Degree in Biology and then from the University of Sussex in 1983 with a Doctorate in Ethology and Neurobiology, followed by postdoctoral research at Cornell University.  Her accomplishments are many - on a global stage she has played a leading role in standards development, being a sought-after leader in bringing about substantial science-based change on farms, in zoos and in laboratories.  She has served on two World Animal Health Organisation (OIE) animal welfare standards committees (broilers, general principles), as well as on the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation committee for Capacity Building for Animal Welfare.  She is a former president of the International Society for Applied Ethology (ISAE) and has also been a member of the Council on Accreditation for the Association and Assessment of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC), which involved conducting animal welfare certification visits to research institutions worldwide (as well as serving as Chair of UC Davis’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee).  

She has been a member or chair of the animal welfare scientific advisory committees of various organisations, including commodity and trade groups (United Egg Producers, National Chicken Council, Food Marketing Institute, National Council of Chain Restaurants), poultry producers (Butterball, Foster Farms, Tyson, Maple Leaf Farms) and food retailers/distributors (McDonald’s, Sysco, ALDI, Safeway).  She contributed to animal care guidelines and auditing programmes for United Egg Producers, National Chicken Council, Humane Heartland, Certified Humane, Federation of Animal Sciences Societies, and the National Research Council.  These animal welfare assessment and audit programmes affect billions of animals.  Indeed, in the US, because food animal welfare is addressed through market-driven schemes instead of legislation, Professor Mench’s recommendations on care for poultry were taken from the boardroom and onto farms. 

Her service has also helped those producers and consumers who wish to see more advanced welfare standards: she was one of the founding scientists for several welfare food labelling programs, for example helping draft the first standards for the American Humane certification programme. This was the first farm animal welfare certification effort in the United States and is now the largest such programme.  It was for this work that she was awarded an American Humane “Humane Hero” Award in 2018. 

Professor Mench’s work is widely cited and she has over 165 peer-reviewed publications to her name.  Her most important scientific journal articles highlight her contributions to farm, zoo and laboratory animal welfare and she has contributed to, edited or co-edited multiple books. 

From 1995 she has been based at University of California, Davis, making considerable contributions to both undergraduate and graduate teaching and to university life, including as Department Vice Chair until her retirement in 2016.  She continues to be active as a consultant on animal welfare issues and an author of scholarly books and articles.

UFAW’s Chief Executive Dr Huw Golledge said: “I’m delighted that this years’ UFAW medal recognises the work of Professor Joy Mench who exemplifies UFAW’s mission to promote Science in the Service of Animal Welfare. Professor Mench has not only done fundamental research to better understand animal welfare issues, she has used her expertise to ensure that her research and that of others actually benefits animals. I cannot think of a more worthy winner.”

The Medal will be presented to Professor Mench virtually at UFAW’s Recent advances in animal welfare science VIII conference on the 29th of June. Professor Mench will also give a presentation entitled “Designing animal welfare standards and audits - finding the right balance by optimizing the inclusion of resource-based and outcome-based measures”. The conference will feature talks and 120 poster presentations from animal welfare scientists across the world over the two days and further information can be found at ufaw.org.uk/conf2021.


Note to editors:

The Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW) is an internationally recognised, independent scientific and educational animal welfare charity. It works to improve knowledge and understanding of animals’ needs in order to achieve high standards of welfare for farm, companion, research, captive wild animals and those with which we interact in the wild.

UFAW improves animal welfare worldwide through its programme of awards, grants and scholarships; by educational initiatives, especially at university and college level; by providing information in books, videos, reports and in its scientific journal Animal Welfare; by providing expert advice to governments and others, including for legislation and ‘best practice’ guidelines and codes; and by working with animal keepers, scientists, vets, lawyers and all those who care about animals. This work relies on the support of members, subscribers and donors.


A list of Professor Mench’s publications can be found on her Research Gate site -https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Joy_Mench/contributions