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UFAW Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Animal Welfare Science

2017 Award Winners

Professor Sandra Edwards and Professor Jeff Rushen

The two 2017 winners of the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW) Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Animal Welfare Science have been announced.  A commemorative medal and award were presented to Professors Sandra Edwards and Jeff Rushen at UFAW’s International Symposium on measuring animal welfare at Royal Holloway, University of London on 28th June.

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 the remarkable achievements of both Sandra and Jeff.

Professor Sandra Edwards of the School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, at Newcastle University is a world-wide respected expert on pig welfare. Her research has focused on the major welfare issues facing the pig industry worldwide, seeking to better understand these problems at a scientific level and using this knowledge to develop approaches to enhance pig welfare that are feasible for the industry to readily adopt.  Many of the welfare projects that Sandra has led involve collaborations between government, academia, NGOs and industry seeking to work together for the benefit of animals. 

In addition she has given her services to provide expertise on farm animal welfare for influential policy/advisory committees such as Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the industry, and welfare assurance schemes.

Sandra has published more than 200 papers and book chapters and serves on the editorial board for a range of journals.  She has inspired young animal scientists and agriculturalists through her teaching animal welfare, how to measure and promote it.

Sandra was nominated for this award by Dr Catherine Douglas, a fellow lecturer at the School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development at Newcastle University who said: “with a global push towards sustainable intensification in animal production, it is reassuring that Sandra turned down retirement to continue championing the animals’ welfare.”

UFAW’s second medal winner, Professor Jeff Rushen of the Dairy Education & Research Centre, University of British Columbia, has an extraordinary lifetime record in the field of animal welfare science.  He has co-authored the most important books to date on both the welfare of cattle, and stereotypic animal behaviour.

Over the course of his career, Jeff has published over 300 papers that provide a model of clear-thinking and research excellence. Amongst his work has been a series of very high impact papers on how people can become an important source of fear for animals, and how this fear can be mitigated to improve human-animal relationships. 

Jeff also has an impressive record of service and leadership within the field. He led Canada’s National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) process ensuring that the welfare standards are science-based, and also served as science expert to the Council. He was a member of the European Food Safety Authority working group reviewing dairy cow welfare and is currently a member of the US Farmed Animal Well- being Commission for Beef.

Dr Derek Haley from the University of Guelph, Canada was one of Jeff’s sponsors for the award.  He said: “A key contribution has been Jeff’s work assisting animal agriculture in understanding and addressing animal welfare issues … In particular his service in helping develop the species Codes of Practice for the Care and Handling of Farm Animals in Canada has been exceptional.  His knowledge of the issues and the science around those issues, together with his level-headed approach to making real change, have made him highly sought after when it comes to compiling the requirements animal agriculture must follow to ensure the welfare of their animals.”

UFAW’s Chief Executive Dr Robert Hubrecht, who presented the awards, said: “Professors Jeff Rushen and Sandra Edwards are both world-leading experts in their fields, who have made substantial contributions to our understanding of farm-animal needs and husbandry. They are very worthy winners of the 2017 UFAW medal”