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UFAW Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Animal Welfare Science


Past Awards

Professor Donald Broom and Professor Christopher Wathes

The UFAW Medal and award for Outstanding Contributions to Animal Welfare was presented to Professor Donald Broom and posthumously awarded to Professor Christopher Wathes, who sadly passed away in May, at the Federation’s Conference ‘Recent Advances in Animal Welfare Science V’ which was held in York on the 23rd 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 Don and Christopher.

Appointed in the mid-1980s as the first professor of animal welfare in the world, Professor Donald Broom has had an exceptional and sustained influence on animal welfare science thinking in the United Kingdom, Europe and many other countries. The breadth of his contributions to the discipline, the seminal nature of his evolving thinking at the moving frontiers of its development during the past 30-35 years, and his unfailing encouragement and support for others who have participated in and made their own distinct contributions to this science are exceptional. With well over 350 peer-reviewed publications, books and textbooks to his name it is not possible to read learned treatises or other commentaries on animal welfare science without frequent reference to Professor Broom’s thinking.

Not only did Professor Broom contribute to developing the frontiers of the science at a fundamental level, but he also applied that understanding to the practical care and protection of farm, companion, working and wild animals, both terrestrial and aquatic, on an impressively wide front. This experience has underpinned his sustained, insightful and influential contributions to UK national, European and wider international standard setting bodies and advisory agencies, often in recognised leadership positions as chairman or vice chairman of those groups, including as Chair of the E.U. Scientific Veterinary Committee, Animal Welfare Section for seven years and Vice-Chair of subsequent E.U. committees, including the EFSA Panel on Animal Health and Welfare, for twelve years.

Accordingly, he has greatly influenced the science-based development of UK and international animal welfare laws, regulations, directives and advisory documents.  Professor Broom has also collaborated actively with many scientists and others who possess complementary expertise, who he simultaneously encouraged to refresh the science by developing their own areas of thinking in animal welfare science.  Many of them, distributed widely on a global scale, are now well-recognised figures in their own right.  He has a wide network of contacts with opinion formers in other countries.  He still regularly lectures overseas and continues to be very supportive of young scientists. 

Professor Christopher Wathes was a leading light in the field of animal welfare and his work is his legacy to animal welfare.  As a scientist, manager and chairman his work has had a deep and lasting impact, leading to substantial pragmatic and sustainable improvements in animal welfare.  Animal welfare is primarily about how animals feel, and Christopher was an early pioneer developing techniques to ask animals what they want.

Christopher has been described as a scientist of the highest calibre and throughout his career engaged with industry so that his research could be translated into practical solutions. Examples include improvements to the design of cages and housing for laying hens and broiler chickens, animal transporters and methods of stunning. He played an early and continuing role in the development of Precision Livestock Farming, believing that the use of real time monitoring of an animals’ performance can be put to good use in early detection of any problems affecting their health and wellbeing.

Christopher helped to train many PhD and MSc students and junior scientists, a large proportion of whom have gone on to develop their own careers in promoting animal welfare through careers in universities, industry and welfare organisations. He also contributed to the education of the general public through lectures, advice and by seeking to engage school children in having an accurate understanding of the provenance of their food and the implications for welfare which this may have.

A major contribution came through Christopher’s 8 years as Chairman of the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC). He brought together people with different backgrounds and viewpoints and got them all working together towards pragmatic and sustainable solutions which would improve welfare. Through his work at FAWC he developed the concepts of the ‘Good Life’ and ‘Life worth Living’ which took the ‘Five Freedoms’ to the next stage.  His widow, Claire, will accept the award on his behalf at the conference.

Professor Claire Wathes, who accepted the award on behalf of her late husband Christopher said: “He would dearly like to thank you for this award.  He did hear about it before he died and it was a big thrill to him….  Another of his great enthusiasms was the training and mentoring of junior staff and PhD students and it’s wonderful that a number of those who benefitted from his often unorthodox training approaches are here with us today.  He left behind him a special wish that we should set up a travel fund for junior scientists in his memory and the money which comes with this award will now go towards this.”  

2015 Professor David Mellor and Professor Georgia Mason

The 2015 winners of the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW) Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Animal Welfare Science were presented with their awards at the UFAW international symposium ‘Animal Populations – World Resources and Animal Welfare Science’, held recently in Zagreb, Croatia. Professor David Mellor of the Animal Welfare Science & Bioethics Centre, Massey University, New Zealand and Professor Georgia Mason of the Department of Animal and Poultry Science, University of Guelph, Canada each received the UFAW commemorative medal and £3,000 in recognition of their exceptional achievements in the advancement of animal welfare over many years.

Professor Mellor has made a significant contribution to the development and recognition of animal welfare science and has played a major role in the application of science to animal ethical analysis and humane animal management. At the Moredun Research Institute in Edinburgh David established the foundations for later major contributions to animal welfare science made after he moved to New Zealand 27 years ago. Previously recognised internationally as a contributor to foetal and neonatal physiology, more recently he has become a leading authority on foetal consciousness in utero and during parturition, and his conclusions have been important for informing both new legislation and animal husbandry. Likewise, he extended his prior Moredun studies of pain and stress associated with castration and tail docking in lambs to castration and dehorning of cattle, and his conclusions underpinned sound practical advice to farmers and veterinarians, as well as codes of welfare for painful husbandry procedures.

David has also advanced animal welfare assessment and ethical decision-making through the use of the extended Five Domains Model, which he first introduced in 1994. At an international level, he has had a pivotal role in the establishment of the New Zealand and Australian OIE Collaborating Centre for Animal Welfare Science and Bioethical Analysis. He has vigorously promoted animal welfare scholarship, and animal welfare science-based policy development and practice, both domestically and internationally.

Professor Mason is highly regarded for her groundbreaking work on stereotypies in a variety of species, and is now widely recognized as the world authority on stereotypic behaviour.  Georgia was also the first to use a multi-species comparative approach to address questions relating to animal welfare. She studied mink motivation in her early research, and has continued to work with mink farmers on practical ways to improve mink welfare, resulting in environmental enrichment now being a requirement for farmed mink in Canada.  Georgia has brought a critical quantitative approach to the subject of animal welfare that has drawn admiration from a wide variety of scientists, and is an excellent role model for the next generation of animal welfare scientists.




2014 Professor Mike Mendl and Professor David Fraser

Professor Mike Mendl (right) receives the UFAW Medal from Dr Robert Hubrecht, UFAW Chief Executive, at the UFAW conference held at the York Merchant Adventurers’ Hall on 26th June

The 2014 winners of the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW) Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Animal Welfare Science were announced at the UFAW conference ‘Recent Advances in Animal Welfare Science’ held in York on 26th June.  Professor Mike Mendl of the University of Bristol School of Veterinary Sciences and Professor David Fraser of the University of British Columbia Animal Welfare Program, Faculty of Land and Food Systems, each received the UFAW commemorative medal and £3,000 in recognition of their exceptional achievements in the advancement of animal welfare over many years.

Professor Mendl is a leading animal welfare researcher and has worked on a wide range of species including companion, farm and laboratory animals, publishing over 100 peer-reviewed papers and 15 book chapters in both fundamental and applied research. Mike has been a pioneer in the study of ‘cognitive bias’, investigating the links between cognition, consciousness and emotion in animals with co-researchers Liz Paul, Emma Harding, Oliver Burman and others. His first work on this subject, published in Nature, was highlighted by the Faculty of 1000 research panel as a ‘must read’ and has since inspired close to 50 published studies by other researchers. Mike’s applied work, for example on factors affecting aggression and tail-biting in pigs, has also yielded knowledge of practical benefit to improving welfare.

Professor David FraserProfessor Fraser’s work has greatly influenced the quality and direction of research in applied ethology and animal welfare science for more than 40 years. He conducted some of the earliest research on the welfare problems of pigs, including individual housing of sows and early weaning of piglets. He also did pioneering work on the use of vocalizations to identify emotional states in animals, and studies of wildlife including the causes and prevention of highway collisions. David has written several highly cited theoretical papers on the scientific study of animal welfare, summarized in his book Understanding Animal Welfare: The Science in its Cultural Context, published in the UFAW Wiley-Blackwell book series. Together with colleagues Dan Weary and Marina von Keyserlingk, he has built a program of animal welfare science at the University of British Columbia that is internationally recognised as one of the best of its kind. David also plays a leading role in the development of global policy on animal welfare through his work with the World Organisation of Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. His work is highly respected across disciplines including animal management, animal ethics and veterinary science.

2013 Professor John Webster and Professor Peter Sandøe

Professor John Webster (left) and Dr Peter Sandøe (right)

The 2013 winners of the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW) Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Animal Welfare Science were presented with their awards in Barcelona at the Federation’s International Symposium ‘Science in the Service of Animal Welfare: Priorities around the world’. A commemorative medal and £3,000 was presented to Professor John Webster and to Professor Peter Sandøe who both have been very influential in the development of animal welfare science internationally.

John Webster is Professor Emeritus at the University of Bristol School of Veterinary Science. Soon after his appointment to the Chair of Animal Husbandry at Bristol in 1977, he established a unit for the study of behaviour and welfare. This has grown into what is today a major international centre of expertise – the Animal Behaviour and Welfare Science Group. As a founder member of the Farm Animal Welfare Council, it was John who first propounded the 5 Freedoms – a concept that has had a worldwide influence on standards for, and approaches to the assessment of, the welfare of domesticated animals. He has published many papers on aspects of animal welfare science and the subjects to which he has made important contributions include cattle lameness and welfare assessment methods. He has published several books in the field including two in the UFAW/ Wiley Blackwell series: 'Animal Welfare: limping towards Eden' and 'Management and Welfare of Farm Animals'. Among other responsibilities he has been President of the Nutrition Society and President of the British Society for Animal Science.

Peter Sandøe is Professor of Bioethics in the Department of Large Animal Sciences and Department of Food and Resource Economics at the University of Copenhagen. He is also Director of the Danish Centre for Bioethics and Risk Assessment. Over the past two decades he has established himself in a unique position in the academic study, university teaching and public discussion of animal welfare and animal ethics. In his interdisciplinary work with animal welfare researchers, veterinarians and animal scientists, he has used his expertise in philosophy to ensure that critical questions of ethical relevance are asked and appropriately analysed. He has published many influential papers, many textbook chapters and web-based teaching materials, and his expertise, clarity of thought and wisdom is widely sought.

His main contribution to research falls within the following four areas: understanding the interface between animal ethics and animal welfare science; analysing the special ethical issues raised by animal biotechnology; the effects of farm animal breeding on animal welfare; and assessment of animal welfare at farm and group level.

2012 Professor Christine Nicol and Professor Marian Stamp Dawkins

The 2012 UFAW Medal winners: Professor Christine Nicol (left) and Professor Marian Stamp Dawkins (right) with UFAW’s Chief Executive Dr James Kirkwood at the award presentation in York.

The 2012 winners of the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW) Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Animal Welfare Science were announced at the Federation’s Conference ‘Recent Advances in Animal Welfare Science’ held in York on the 21st June.  A commemorative medal and £3,000 was presented to Professor Marian Stamp Dawkins of Oxford University, and to Professor Christine Nicol of the University of Bristol.

Marian Dawkins is Professor of Animal Behaviour at Oxford, and Fellow and Tutor in Biological Sciences at Somerville College. Marian was one of the small group of scientists who saw how the science of ethology could be used to inform decisions and legislation regarding how animals should be kept. She was particularly concerned about whether kept animals might suffer through being deprived of certain resources or the opportunity to perform natural behaviour. Marian pioneered the use of preference tests to seek the hens' own views about aspects of their environments and has continued to pursue innovative, illuminating and important research in animal behaviour relevant to welfare. She has published many seminal papers in the field. In addition, Marian is a successful popular science writer, explaining in the most clear, lucid and interesting way, the challenges and fascination of animal welfare. In both these aspects of her work she is a great and very influential leader in the field and champion of the importance of science.

Christine Nicol is Professor of Animal Welfare at the University of Bristol Veterinary School. She undertook her PhD research into behavioural needs of battery hens under the supervision of Marian Dawkins in Oxford and has continued to work on aspects of hen welfare, among other subjects, since. Her work formed an important part of the evidence that was used by EU veterinary and scientific committees to bring about a ban on conventional ‘battery’ cages for laying hens (from 2012), and to develop viable and humane alternative housing systems such as the furnished cage, which have been embraced by British industry. Whilst maintaining a prolific output of very high quality papers in animal behaviour and animal welfare science, she has played a leading role in developing the world-renowned animal welfare science group at Bristol Vet School (currently 65-70 people) and is tireless in encouraging and training young scientists in this field.   

The UFAW Conference was the third in its 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.

2011 Professor Ian Duncan

Professor Ian Duncan, University of Guelph (l), and Dr James Kirkwood, UFAW Chief Executive and Scientific Director, on board HMS Warrior, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, for the presentation of the UFAW Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Animal Welfare Science.The winner of the inaugural UFAW Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Animal Welfare Science was announced at the UFAW International Symposium ‘Making animal welfare improvements: Economic and other incentives and constraints’ held in Portsmouth UK, 28th and 29th June 2011. A commemorative medal and £3,000 was presented by Professor John Webster of Bristol University, UK, on behalf of UFAW, to Professor Ian Duncan of the University of Guelph, Canada.

Ian Duncan is one of the pioneers of the new direction in animal welfare science that began around 40 years ago with investigation of the animal’s own perspective of its world,” said James Kirkwood, UFAW’s Chief Executive and Scientific Director. “He has had a highly productive career and his work has been very influential. He is well known for promoting the idea that welfare is about animals’ feelings, which has come to be widely accepted. Work by Ian revolutionised the study of poultry behaviour, inspiring scientists and others around the world, and ultimately helped lead to the European Union ban on battery cages. We were delighted to award the first UFAW Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Animal Welfare Science to Professor Duncan.”