Hartpury University student picks up best speaker prize at 16th UFAW Student Animal Welfare Conference

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A Hartpury University student has been awarded the prize for ‘best speaker’ after presenting the findings of her dissertation research at the 16th UFAW (Universities Federation for Animal Welfare) Student Animal Welfare Conference.  

Anna Pili (BSc (Hons) Animal Behaviour and Welfare) was awarded the prize after presenting findings from her study: ‘An exploration of potential causal factors of alopecia in a zoo-housed group of Hamadryas baboons (Papio hamadryas)' at the online conference, hosted by Hartpury University on Wednesday 27 April. Anna explored the differences and occurrences of self-plucking and social plucking amongst captive non-human primates, shining a light on a poorly understood area.

The annual event, funded by UFAW, brings together undergraduate and postgraduate students from Hartpury University and other institutions including Writtle University College and Brooksby Melton College who present the findings of their research, carried out as part of their degree studies.

Hartpury University PhD students Georgia Oaten and Polly Doodson also presented their research findings. Georgia explored the interplay between zoo visitors and macaques while Polly presented findings from research investigating public perception of ‘meet and greet’ animal experiences. Martha Hurrell (BSc (Hons) Human-Animal Interaction) assessed the relationship between dairy farmers and their herd, exploring the potential effects on their mental wellbeing and welfare of the cattle.

Research from the other institutions included an analysis of horse behaviour when presented with a human emotional cue, Kennel Club height classification and retirement age in agility dogs, and an investigation into the interactions of white rhinos at Colchester Zoo, with specific mention to calves.

A topical keynote from Walter Veit (University of Cambridge and University of Sydney) opened proceedings, exploring the new Act, a piece of legislation that aims to make provision for an Animal Sentience Committee with functions relating to the effect of government policy on the welfare of animals as sentient beings.

Dr Wanda McCormick, Head of Animal and Agriculture at Hartpury University, said: “This year’s student conference was a huge success. We had some amazing talks from students from Hartpury University, Writtle University and Brooksby Melton College and it was fabulous to see the variety of areas that students have been investigating. We were even more pleased when the best speaker prize was awarded to one of our own students, Anna Pili.”

The conference provided Hartpury University’s undergraduate students with a chance to present alongside their postgraduate peers and to see the kind of projects they could become involved in should they progress their studies beyond degree level.

Hartpury University’s BSc (Hons) Animal Behaviour and Welfare degree provides students with an opportunity to study the biology behind behaviour while also considering ethical issues affecting domestic, exotic and wild species. 96% of Hartpury graduates are in employment or further study within 15 months (Graduate Outcomes Survey 2021).

Hartpury University was also ranked number one in the UK by full-time postgraduate students in the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey 2021. Ninety-one percent of full-time students are satisfied with the quality of their course, compared to a sector average of just 77%.

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