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UFAW Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Animal Welfare Science

2021 Award Winner

Professor Joy Mench

“A life of science and service…” Professor Michael C. Appleby OBE


UFAW is delighted to announce that the winner of the 2021 UFAW Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Animal Welfare Science is Professor Emeritus Joy Mench for her exemplary service to animal welfare over 40 years.

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 research has been centred around the study of animal behaviour in the context of improving the welfare of animals kept on farms, as companions and in research laboratories and zoos. 

Professor Mench’s work is widely cited and she has over 165 peer-reviewed publications to her name.  She has contributed to, edited or co-edited multiple books, including Poultry Behaviour and Welfare, The Biology of Animal Stress, Animal Welfare 2nd edition, and a new series including Advances in Poultry Welfare and Advances in Agricultural Animal Welfare: Science and Practice. 

On the global stage, Professor Mench has also played a leading role in standards development – she is 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 and 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, 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).

However, it is in applying animal welfare science to real life practical problems that Professor Mench is most remarkable and has been able to effect real change for animals. 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 Cassandra Tucker, Director of the Center for Animal Welfare, UC Davis, California, who nominated Professor Mench for the Medal 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.”

Professor Georgia Mason who supported Professor Mench’s nomination added: “Professor Joy Mench is far more than a phenomenal scientist: she’s been an incredible diplomat and leader, able to effect real, evidence-based policy change on the ground to benefit animals. I admire her beyond words.”

Since 1995 Professor Mench 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.  She has also mentored a cohort of scientists that follow her example, fostering creativity and excellence in her mentees as well as creating opportunities for her students and supporting them with thoughtful and measured advice. Her graduates or mentees are faculty members at research or teaching institutes, including UC Davis, Stanford University, and the University of Wisconsin. Others are working in government agencies or in the non-profit sector, including at the ASPCA.

She was given the UC Davis Distinguished Public Scholarly Service Award in 2007 and made Professor Emeritus on her retirement in 2016.  She continues to be active as a consultant on animal welfare issues and an author of scholarly books and articles.


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