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UFAW announces 2024 award winners

15 May 2024

The Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW) has announced its 2024 award winners. The recipients will be presented with their awards, and speak about their work, at the UFAW International Animal Welfare Conference taking place in Porto, Portugal, on 10 – 11 July 2024.

UFAW Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Animal Welfare Science 2024 Award Winner    

The UFAW Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Animal Welfare Science recognises the exceptional achievements of an individual scientist who has 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. 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.”

UFAW Early Career Animal Welfare Researcher of the year 2024 Award Winner

The UFAW Early Career Animal Welfare Researcher of the Year Award recognises the achievements of early career scientists who have made significant contributions to improving the welfare of animals. The recipient of the UFAW Early Career Researcher of the Year Award 2024 has been named as Dr Vikki Neville.

Dr Neville is the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Discovery Fellow and Proleptic Lecturer at Bristol Veterinary School. She was nominated for the award to recognise her academic excellence, drive and leadership in improving the welfare of laboratory animals.

Dr Neville drives welfare science forward using her groundbreaking skill for developing and applying novel approaches to address important welfare questions. She has diverse research interests, but the bulk of her work focuses on using high quality fundamental science studies that enable us to better understand animal emotion and hence welfare. She has studied a range of companion and laboratory species including starlings, rabbits, and rats.

Beyond her impressive research skills, Dr Neville’s exceptional passion for welfare science is further evidenced in her dedication to mentoring colleagues and students in the use of quantitative approaches to animal welfare issues.

In response to receiving the award, Dr Neville said: "I'm incredibly honoured to receive this year's UFAW Early Career Animal Welfare Researcher of the Year Award. It is a joy and privilege to be an animal welfare researcher, and this award is the cherry on top of the cake. I'm hugely grateful to my wonderful colleagues and mentors, particularly Prof. Mike Mendl, Dr Liz Paul, Prof. Peter Dayan and Prof. Iain Gilchrist, for their support and encouragement."

Dr Huw Golledge concluded: “We are delighted to be able to recognise the significant impact that Dr Neville has made to the field of animal welfare science so early on in her career. She has already established herself as an accomplished animal welfare scientist whose work has continued positive impact on animal welfare. Her impressive array of skills and passion for welfare science, combined with her dedication to supporting her peers make her a truly worthy recipient of the ECR award.

I look forward to hearing both Professor Elwood and Dr Neville present their work at the UFAW International Animal Welfare Conference 2024 in Porto in July.”