Zoology student awarded best presentation at prestigious animal welfare conference


Ellie Martin, a BSc (Hons) Zoology student at Hartpury University has won the prize for best presentation at the 17th Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW) Student Animal Welfare Conference hosted by Writtle University College. The prize goes to a Hartpury student for the second consecutive year, after Anna Pili (BSc (Hons) Animal Behaviour and Welfare) picked up the award in 2022.

The annual event, funded by UFAW, brings together undergraduate and postgraduate students from Hartpury University, Writtle University College, Moulton College and Brooksby Melton College, providing an opportunity to present the findings of their degree-related research.

Ellie’s presentation, titled ‘Visitor Effect on Captive Raptor Behaviour at a UK Falconry Centre’, found that a high density of visitors increased the likelihood of raptors hiding in their nest boxes.

Speaking about the conference and its impact on her studies, Ellie said: “The UFAW Conference was brilliantly organised by a group of professional and welcoming individuals, which made presenting a fun and exciting experience. It was great to be able to practice my presentation skills and even better to win the award for best presentation, which will no doubt help to equip me with industry-ready skills once I graduate.”

Dr Wanda McCormick, Head of Animal and Agriculture at Hartpury University, said: “This year’s Student Animal Welfare Conference was another huge success and well done to all staff and students who participated. In particular, congratulations to Ellie Martin for bringing the best presentation prize back to Hartpury.

“These conferences provide an ideal opportunity for students and staff to network with peers from other institutions and to share ideas and knowledge. They also provide an opportunity to develop those all-important communication skills needed to effectively spread the word about topical issues and ultimately improve animal welfare within their future careers.”

A number of other Hartpury University students and staff presented research. Erin Hall, a BSc (Hons) Applied Animal Science with Therapy student presented her findings on whether pre-purchase spinal x-rays (that rule out ‘kissing spine’) increase buyer confidence and horse welfare when purchasing former racehorses for continual riding. Ashleigh Witcombe, a BSc (Hons) Animal Behaviour and Welfare student submitted her poster investigating the general public’s awareness of health issues in pedigree dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) in the UK.

Helen Tedds, Lecturer in Animal Welfare and Programme Manager for MSc Animal Welfare, Policy, and Legislation at Hartpury University, submitted a poster on her recent PhD findings at the University of Northampton exploring what information is lacking from online classified adverts selling reptiles and amphibians. 

The conference also included a topical keynote from Dr Suzanne Rogers from Human Behaviour Change for Animals (HBCA) with an insight into her work on methods used to change behaviour to improve animal welfare.

Opportunities like this conference have contributed to high levels of graduate employability - 97% of animal graduates are in employment, further study or purposeful activity according to Graduate Outcomes 2022.