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UFAW Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Animal Welfare Science

2024 Award Winner

Professor Emeritus Robert Elwood

The 2024 winner of the UFAW Medal is Professor Emeritus Robert Elwood of Queen’s University Belfast.

Professor Elwood was nominated for the award in recognition of his pioneering work on the experience of pain in decapod crustaceans. His ground-breaking research has not only expanded our knowledge about invertebrate welfare but has been instrumental in influencing policy, resulting in decapod crustaceans being included in the UK’s Animal Sentience Act.

The impact of his work, and benefit to the welfare of animals, extends internationally, with his research informing legislation and policy in both Switzerland and Australia. Professor Elwood’s work was also pivotal in the establishment of Crustacean Compassion, an animal welfare organisation dedicated to the humane treatment of decapod crustaceans. It has also influenced concern for decapod welfare by UFAW as well as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), the British Veterinary Association, the Humane Slaughter Association, the Australian RSPCA and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Prof Elwood has authored an extensive list of over 200 publications including a chapter on the welfare of decapods used in research in the newly published 9th edition of UFAW’s Handbook on the Care and Management of Laboratory and Other Research Animals. His contributions to the area of animal welfare also include supervising 39 PhD students to completion and establishing an MSc in Animal Behaviour and Welfare at Queen’s University Belfast. He has also been active in running major international societies including the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.

In response to receiving the award, Professor Elwood said: “I have been astounded by the attention given to my work on possible pain in decapod crustaceans and how that has impacted the welfare concerns for these animals. This award from UFAW will encourage policy makers to ensure that these animals are treated humanely. Thank you.”

Commenting on Professor Elwood’s award, Dr Huw Golledge, UFAW Chief Executive, said: “Professor Elwood has made an exceptional contribution to animal welfare science. More specifically, his research on pain in decapod crustaceans has greatly enhanced our understanding of this important topic and has been pivotal in enshrining their welfare in law. His career and achievements epitomise science in the service of animal welfare, making him a truly worthy recipient of this award.”