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UFAW Young Animal Welfare Scientist of the Year

Past Awards


2016 Dr Rowena Packer

The 2016 Young Animal Welfare Scientist of the Year Award has been given to Dr Rowena Packer, a Clinical Investigations Postdoctoral Researcher at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC). 

Rowena has shown a talent for quantitative research, which she has applied to her animal welfare research. Her undergraduate final year research project at the University of Bristol on meta-analysis explored the potential to combine the results of animal welfare research studies, and was exceptional for a scientist at this stage in her career. Her PhD, also of high standard, has raised awareness of the links between extreme conformation and inherited diseases in dogs and its findings have been featured in a number of high profile publications.

Rowena has been proactive and has worked with the dog breeding community in disseminating her research. She has given invited talks to many dog breed clubs and played a major role in organising and hosting an interactive event, ‘Building Better Brachycephalics’, where she presented her PhD findings to approximately 50 stakeholders. Rowena is now a postdoctoral researcher, studying epilepsy in dogs at the RVC, as part of which she co-created the RVC Pet Epilepsy Tracker, a smartphone app for the owners of dog with epilepsy, and ran an owner engagement event, ‘21st Century Management of Canine Epilepsy’. She continues to work alongside breeders and breed clubs to facilitate research that will ultimately reduce the frequency and severity of breed-related disorders in dogs.

Rowena was presented with her award at the UFAW Conference ‘Recent Advances in Animal Welfare Science’ held in York on 23rd June. 

The Conference was the fifth in UFAW’s popular series of one-day conferences providing a forum for both experienced and new animal welfare scientists, veterinarians and others to discuss recent developments in animal welfare science.

2015 Dr Jasmeet Kaler

The 2015 UFAW Young Animal Welfare Scientist of the Year award has been presented by the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare to Dr Jasmeet Kaler, Lecturer in Veterinary Epidemiology and Farm Animal Health at the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham.

UFAW makes this award annually to recognise the achievements of young scientists who have made significant contributions to improving the welfare of animals. The award is open to postgraduate students, anywhere in the world, who are currently studying for a doctoral degree or who are in postdoctoral work within six years of their PhD. This year’s award was presented to Dr Kaler at the UFAW international symposium on ‘Animal Populations – World Resources and Animal Welfare Science’, held recently in Zagreb, Croatia.

Dr Kaler’s doctoral and post-doctoral work on lameness in sheep, which affects around three million sheep each year in the UK, has contributed to current best practice in managing lameness on sheep farms. Her work influenced the Farm Animal Welfare Council opinion on lameness in sheep (2011), and has been used in lameness guidelines considered as industry best practice. Jasmeet’s subsequent work has identified treatments for foot rot and shown that foot trimming in fact delays healing. Her work has contributed to the significant reduction in prevalence of lameness, increased detection and treatment, reduced use of foot trimming and increased use of antibacterial therapy, all of which are of huge impact to the welfare of sheep in the UK.

2014 Dr Lisbet Pluym

Winner of the UFAW 2014 awardThe 2014 UFAW Young Animal Welfare Scientist of the Year award was presented by the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare at their Recent Advances in Animal Welfare Science conference in York on June 26th to Dr Liesbet Pluym.

UFAW makes this award to recognise the achievements of young scientists who have made significant contributions to improving the welfare of animals. The award is open to postgraduate students, anywhere in the world, who are currently studying for a doctoral degree or who are in postdoctoral work within six years of their PhD.

Dr Pluym is a researcher in the Porcine Health Unit, Ghent University Faculty of Veterinary Medicine where she has developed, in cooperation with the Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research, a prototype of an automatic lameness detection system for sows, providing an important new tool to address this problem while also investigating the economic consequences of lameness and risk factors.

Liesbet has made a point of disseminating her findings to farmers and veterinarians, encouraging management systems that improve the welfare and health of animals, enhance farmers’ working pleasure and improve financial performance. Her multidisciplinary and practical approach to lameness alleviation, both as scientist and practicing veterinarian, are likely to have a significant impact within the Belgian industry and more widely.

2013 Dr Nuno Franco

Winner of the UFAW 2013 awardThe 2013 UFAW Young Animal Welfare Scientist of the Year award was presented at the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare International Symposium in Barcelona on 4th July  to Dr Nuno Franco of the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, Porto, Portugal.

Dr Nuno was awarded his Doctoral degree (with Distinction) at the University of Porto in 2012 for his thesis on 'Animal Welfare and the implementation of refinement in biomedical research' and has published a series of papers on this subject. Through his work, he has promoted the use of biomarkers that give early indications of the state of disease, in studies of infectious diseases using animal models, so that these can be used as humane end points and the later stages of the disease can be avoided. As he says in a paper published in PloS Pathogens1, “A science-driven approach for the termination of animal studies may not only prevent unnecessary and avoidable suffering, but also contribute to optimizing financial and human resources, enhancing the scientific output and speeding up the scientific process.”

2012 Dr Charlotte Burn                       

Winner of the UFAW 2012 awardThe winner of the 2012 UFAW Young Animal Welfare Scientist of the Year award was announced by the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare at its Conference ‘Recent advances in animal welfare science’ held in York on 21st June 2012. UFAW was pleased to present the award, together with a prize of £1,000, to Dr Charlotte Burn, Lecturer in Animal Welfare at the Royal Veterinary College. 

Charlotte's PhD research was into the effects of husbandry regimes on rat welfare. This work, carried out at Oxford University under the supervision of Georgia Mason, has been influential in establishing management standards for the good husbandry of laboratory rats in various countries. Subsequently she was appointed to a post-doctoral position at Bristol University to identify risk factors for poor welfare in horses and donkeys in developing countries, and then became a Research Fellow at the Centre for Animal Welfare at the Royal Veterinary College. Charlotte’s current research interests include investigating whether boredom or an emotional state like it might exist in animals and how it might be assessed. She also uses advanced statistical techniques to help tackle practical welfare issues, such as the conformational disorders prevalent in certain dog breeds. She has a reputation for spotting innovative approaches to tackling scientific questions. A recent example of this is her study of tail-chasing behaviour in dogs and owners' reactions to it, based on clips on YouTube, which highlights the need to raise public awareness of the clinical implications of persistent tail-chasing. This work was published in the journal PLoS One, and adds to her already very impressive publication record in animal welfare science.

2011 Dr Lucy Asher, Dr Lisa Collins, Dr Emma Baxter

The winners of the 2011 UFAW Young Animal Welfare Scientist  of the Year award 2011 (l to r) Lucy Asher, Lisa Collins, Emma Baxter.

The winners of the inaugural UFAW Young Animal Welfare Scientist of the Year awards were announced by the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare at its recent International Symposium held in Portsmouth, UK, on the 28th and 29th June 2011.

Three winners were presented with their prize of £1,000 and award certificate by Professor John Webster of the University of Bristol on behalf of UFAW. The recipients were:  Dr Lucy Asher, Lecturer at Nottingham School of Veterinary Medicine and Science; Dr Emma Baxter, Research Scientist at the Scottish Agricultural College; and Dr Lisa Collins, Lecturer at Queen’s University, Belfast.

“The standard of applications for this award was extremely high,” said Dr James Kirkwood, UFAW Chief Executive and Scientific Director. “All three winners have accomplished a great deal of successful and significant work in animal welfare science and have contributed much to future development in their respective fields.”

Lucy Asher’s PhD research at Newcastle University involved methods of quantifying repetitive behaviours in captive starlings. More recently she has worked in a BBSRC funded post at the Royal Veterinary College on projects at London and Bristol including welfare of chickens and pedigree dogs, and continued her studies on mathematical approaches for describing behaviour.

Emma Baxter, amongst other things, has made two important and internationally recognised contributions to the issue of farrowing crates. Her PhD into piglet mortality in non-farrowing crate systems showed the potential for genetic selection in tackling this problem. In her first post-doctoral post she has made great progress in designing and developing the non-crate system known as PIGSAFE and has worked with industry to encourage its uptake.

Lisa Collins undertook her PhD studies at Oxford University into welfare aspects of stocking densities in broiler chickens. Subsequently she took up a research fellowship at the Royal Veterinary College and is now Lecturer in animal behaviour at Queen’s University, Belfast.  Her main research interests since completing her PhD have been in developing statistical tools for welfare assessment and in welfare issues associated with dog breeding. She and Lucy Asher were authors of a paper published in the Veterinary Journal on inherited defects in pedigree dogs which has been in the top 10 most downloaded papers in that journal since its publication.

In addition to the three winners, Laura Fox-Clipsham, Animal Health Trust, and Kirsten Walker of the University of Calgary, Canada, were highly commended.