UFAW Early Career Animal Welfare Researcher of the year

2021 Award Winners

Dr Jamie Ahloy Dallaire, Université Laval, Département des sciences animales, Québec, Canada and Dr Jen-Yun Chou, Swine Group, University of Pennsylvania, United States of America

Such was the high standard of applicants for the UFAW Early Career Researcher of the Year award that this year, it was decided to split the award equally between two outstandingly talented and committed animal welfare researchers.

Both Dr Ahloy Dallaire and Dr Chou have demonstrated exemplary work to benefit animal welfare and UFAW is delighted to announce them as joint winners of the Early Career Researcher of the Year award for 2021.

 

Dr Jamie Ahloy Dallaire

Jamie gained a BSc in biology at McGill University, Montreal, Quebec. He then began his career in animal welfare research in 2008 with a Masters degree and a PhD in Animal Behaviour and Welfare Research at the University of Guelph, Ontario, and completed his post-doctoral research at Stanford University, California.  Since 2018, he has been Assistant Professor of Behaviour and Welfare in Animal Production at Laval University, Quebec, Quebec.

Professor Georgia Mason from the University of Guelph, Canada who nominated Jamie for the award said:  “I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Dr Jamie Ahloy Dallaire for twelve years, working as his MSc and PhD advisor for seven years, and collaborating with him since then as well.  He has an unusual combination of intelligence, originality, independence, initiative, statistical know-how, collegiality and excellent teaching abilities. He is a truly excellent critical thinker, and very widely read. He is curiosity-driven, imaginative, passionate about welfare science and applied ethology.  His understanding of animal behaviour and well-being is unusually broad and deep. He is superb at statistics and mathematically gifted…  Watching his continued development and upward trajectory as a post-doc and young faculty member has thus been a real pleasure … he really deserves this award.” 

While only five years post PhD, Jamie already has 24 papers published in peer-reviewed journals and a faculty position.  He has conducted practical work on enrichment for farmed mink and serves on the National Farm Animal Care Council’s (NFACC) Mink Code of Practice Amendment Committee.  His most important work to date is on the welfare of laboratory mice and how this can be assessed in and affected by their home environment, and on the causes, functions, and welfare significance of play. In addition to his work with NFACC, he also serves with the Canadian Council on Animal Care, sitting on two sub-committees helping to draw up welfare standards for animals used in research and teaching. He is currently working on robustness with respect to welfare in pigs, and on the welfare significance of play in piglets.

Dr Joseph Garner, who supported Jamie’s nomination said: “Jamie’s intellect and work ethic are remarkable. He brings a deep and considered intellectual perspective to issues in animal behaviour and welfare and has an incredibly rich technical skillset, including an outstanding level of statistical expertise. He has worked with swine, lab, fur, and zoo species, being concept-driven rather than species-focused: a huge strength and one shared with the top names in the field. All this makes him a uniquely valuable talent in the field of animal welfare.”

Dr Jen-Yun Chou

Jen gained her MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare with Distinction at the University of Edinburgh in 2015.  She remained at the University of Edinburgh to do her PhD in Clinical Veterinary Sciences, her PhD project being strategies to manage tail biting in pigs housed in fully slatted systems. 

Since she completed her PhD, Jen has played a significant role in enabling communication and networking within the animal welfare research community.  She spent five months working as a Global Animal Welfare Advisor at World Animal Protection, spending a lot of that time involved in co-ordinating the 3T's Alliance. This is a voluntary group of experts and stakeholders working collaboratively to explore issues surrounding ending tail docking, teeth reduction and physical/surgical castration in pigs.  Since October 2020, she has been undertaking her post doctoral research at the Swine Teaching and Research centre at the University of Pennsylvania.

Her thesis includes five experimental chapters, all published in peer-reviewed journals, and she has published four other papers, with a further four from her time in Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority, Ireland) and more in preparation. Such an output is hugely impressive given she only completed her PhD in December last year. Jen has also contributed an incredible 19 conference presentations from her PhD, 13 as first author, and was the winner of an early career award at the European Federation of Animal Science (EAAP) in Croatia 2018.

Jen has attained a huge amount of experience and knowledge in how to optimise pig management in commercial systems, collecting some of her data at commercial units. She presented her work to Irish farmers at a range of producer focused events and wrote articles for various technical and producer-focused magazines and newsletters, to help her work reach the audience where it would have most benefit for the animals.

Jen also helps run the Animal Welfare Slack Workspace, which hosts bi-weekly seminars for early career researchers to present their work. Since it was established in September 2020 it has grown to 720 members and has provided a vital outlet for researchers to network and share knowledge during the pandemic.

Dr Keelin O’Driscoll, Research Officer at Teagasc who nominated Jen for the award said: “The quality of Jen’s work and enthusiasm have made her a pleasure to work with, and her positive attitude and willingness to help others is much missed since she has left. The past year has demonstrated that Jen is not only a great scientist, but a fantastic science communicator and influencer. She has moved back into active research recently and I am confident will excel again in her new position.”

Dr Rick D’Eath, Reader in Animal Behaviour & Welfare and Dr Dale Sandercock, Senior Researcher in Veterinary Molecular Neurobiology, both of whom were Jen’s supervisors at SRUC said: “Having supervised, co-supervised and examined a number of PhD students over the years, Jen-Yun stands out among them as being of the highest calibre…Going forward, we are confident that Jen will continue to be a passionate and effective advocate of animal welfare and to make lasting and significant additions to animal welfare research. We believe she has an exciting and influential career ahead of her in animal welfare science.”