UFAW Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Animal Welfare Science

2019 Award Winner

Professor Paul Hemsworth

Paul Hemsworth was born on the 29th September, 1950 in Melbourne Australia. From an early age, he had a keen interest in wildlife, agriculture and biology.

He graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Honours) in 1973 and following a brief period as a scientist with the Department of Agriculture, Werribee, Victoria, he completed his PhD in 1978 at the University of Melbourne.  After completing a post-doctoral fellowship at the Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands, studying human-animal relationships in commercial pig farms, he returned to Department of Agriculture, Werribee, Victoria as a research scientist and then principal scientist until 1997.

For almost four decades Professor Hemsworth pioneered and led internationally acclaimed research on the role of human-animal interactions on the welfare and productivity of farm livestock. His research (over 500 publications and 200 peer reviewed papers) has elucidated how human characteristics, such as attitudes and behaviour towards farm animals, affect their fear and acute and chronic stress responses, seriously limiting both farm animal welfare and productivity.

His research programme was multi-faceted, evolving from studies in laboratories and farms, then extended to psychological investigation of both the impact of stockperson attitudes on farm livestock and motivational modification of stockpersons - resulting in welfare and productivity improvement.  

Most recently, he has extended his work to human-animal interactions in zoos and domestic settings.  By understanding the influence of human attitudes and behaviour on animal fear, stress, productivity and welfare, this research underpinned the development and application of purpose-designed training programmes in the dairy, pig and poultry industries.  These programmes successfully modified key human characteristics and resulted in improvements in farm animal productivity and welfare. As a result, Professor Hemsworth’s team has developed commercial training programmes for stockpersons in Australia, New Zealand and the USA in the dairy and pork industries. The team has also acted as a major partner in the European Union's 6th Framework Welfare Quality programme, resulting in the "Quality Handling" stockperson training packages for the pig, dairy, beef and egg industries.  For two decades he and his group were the only major proponents of this line of inquiry.

In 1997, Professor Hemsworth jointly established the Animal Welfare Science Centre (AWSC) with the University of Melbourne, Monash University and the Department of Natural Resources and Environment (Victoria).  As Director (until 2017) he led it to become the pre-eminent such Centre in Australia and it has developed an international reputation as a major innovative contributor to animal welfare science developments involving the key disciplines of animal behaviour, psychology, stress physiology and veterinary medicine.

Throughout his career Paul has encouraged and supported his colleagues.  Under Professor Hemsworth’s leadership and supervision 45 postgraduate students have successfully completed PhD, Masters and Honours degrees helping to develop the next generation of researchers.  Paul continues to play a leading role in the practical development of animal welfare standards and practices in Australia and elsewhere and in 2019 was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the Queen’s Birthday 2019 Honours List for significant service to agricultural science and animal welfare.