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

UFAW Medals awarded to outstanding animal welfare scientists

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 in 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.

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 Marian and Christine.

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.

Date: 3 July 2012

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