ABW People & Projects

ABW Faculty:

Renee Bergeron
Trevor DeVries
Ian Duncan
Derek Haley
Alexandra Harlander

Georgia Mason
Katrina Merkies
Lee Niel
Stephanie Torrey
Patricia Turner
Tina Widowski

If you're interested in working with any of these faculty members, please go to Join the ABW.


Rene Bergeron

Renée Bergeron

Dr. Bergeron, in the Department of Animal Biociences, studies dairy cow behaviour and welfare, while maintaining a research program in swine behaviour. Having a background in animal nutrition and behaviour, her research focus has been the relationship between feeding practices and animal welfare. Other interests include feeding preferences, social behaviour, and animal stress as it relates to the social and physical environment. She is currently involved in research projects on feeding preferences in dairy cows, on-farm welfare assessment in swine and dairy cows, swine handling and transportation, and fly avoidance behaviour in pastured cows.

Departmental webpage

DR RENEE BERGERON | Associate Professor | Department of Animal Biosciences | University of Guelph | 50 Stone Rd E, Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1 | Tel, 613-679-2218 x301 | rbergero@uoguelph.ca

Trevor DeVries

Trevor DeVries

Dr. DeVries, in the Department of Animal Biosciences, is interested in understanding the links between dairy cow behaviour, nutrition and welfare. His fundamental research explores the development and learning of feeding behaviour in dairy cattle, as well as the physiological consequences of that behaviour. Applied research projects address practical approaches to improving the housing, management, and feeding of dairy cattle in effort to improve production, health, and welfare.

Departmental webpage

DR TREVOR DEVRIES, PhD | Associate Professor | Department of Animal Biosciences | University of Guelph | 50 Stone Rd E, Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1 | Tel, 519-824-4120 ext .54081 | tdevries@uoguelph.ca

Ian Duncan

Ian Duncan

Dr. Duncan, in the Department of Animal Biosciences, is particularly interested in fundamental questions concerning the nature of sentience and its relationship to welfare. He is also committed to finding solutions to farm animal welfare problems through more applied research.

URL: Coming soon!

DR IAN DUNCAN, PhD | Professor Emeritus, Emeritus Chair in Animal Welfare |
Department of Animal Biosciences | University of Guelph | Guelph, ON | iduncan@uoguelph.ca

Derek Haley

Derek Haley

Dr. Haley, in the Department of Population Medicine, leads a research program focused on the ethology of farm animals, and both dairy and beef cattle in particular. He is interested in understanding how the behavioural biology of farm animals is influenced by the different ways they are housed and managed. Some of his main subjects of interest include maternal and neonatal behaviour, social bonds, weaning, transportation, cattle housing, and animal welfare. Please visit his Department Home Page for more information on these and other subjects, and a list of some of his publications.

Departmental webpage

DR DEREK HALEY, PhD | Associate Professor | Ontario Veterinary College | 2539 Stewart Building | Guelph, ON | Tel, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53677 | dhaley@uoguelph.ca

Alexandra Harlander

Alexandra Harlander

Working in Dr. Harlander’s lab, in the Department of Animal Biosciences, will foster your passion for science-based poultry welfare research. Her experiments aim to explore the core aspects of poultry physical and mental health and strive to determine from the birds’ point of view what they want from their physical and social environments. She tackles these questions by integrating diverse disciplines: behaviour, physiology, neuroscience, genetic, nutrition and experimental biology.

Departmental webpage

DR ALEXANDRA HARLANDER | Assistant Professor | Department of Animal Biosciences | 247 ANNU | Guelph, ON | Tel, 519-824-4120, Ext. 52021 | aharland@uoguelph.ca

Georgia Mason

Georgia Mason

Dr. Mason, in the Department of Animal Biosciences, studies how long-term housing conditions (e.g. enriched versus non-enriched) affect the welfare, behaviour and brain functioning of lab, farm and zoo animals. She and her group are particularly interested in how species differences and early experience affect animals’ abilities to cope with captive conditions; in validating and refining techniques for assessing welfare (e.g. via preference responses, play, stereotypic behaviour and anhedonia); and the evolution and functions of sentience.

For more information click here. For insights into life in her lab, please see her Lab group blog, and for a brief resumé, go to her Departmental webpage.

DR GEORGIA MASON | Canada Research Chair in Animal Welfare | Department of Animal Biosciences | University of Guelph | Guelph, ON | Tel. 519-824-4120 Ext. 56804 | gmason@uoguelph.ca

Georgia Mason

Katrina Merkies

Dr Merkies in the Department of Animal Biosciences has a passionate interest in all aspects of equine behaviour, welfare and management. Her main research focus is on the horse-human interaction, particularly in terms of how personality and attachment theory may influence this relationship. The welfare of horses used in equine-assisted programs, and how best to assess the welfare of any horse are key projects. Other applied projects are as diverse as the justification of using whips on racehorses, taste preferences in horses, less stressful methods for weaning foals and the effect of rider position on horse behaviour.  

Departmental webpage

DR KATRINA MERKIES | Associate Professor | BBRM Equine Management | Department of Animal Biosciences | University of Guelph | Guelph, ON | Tel. 519-824-4120 Ext. 56804 | kmerkies@uoguelph.ca

Lee Niel

Lee Niel

Dr. Niel, in the Department of Population Medicine, studies the behaviour and welfare of companion animals, with a focus on cats and dogs. Key areas of interest include the following: 1) assessing and improving the welfare of cats and dogs in relation to veterinary care; 2) developing and applying novel methods for the identification and management of animal pain and stress; and 3) preventing canine aggression by understanding the behavioural and physiological characteristics and environmental factors that predispose dogs to the development of aggression, and developing effective interventions. Dr. Niel has training in both applied animal behaviour and welfare and behavioural neuroscience, which allows her group to use of a diverse suite of research tools (behaviour assessment and testing, molecular genetics, neurobiology) to conduct both basic and applied behaviour and welfare research.

Departmental Webpage

DR LEE NIEL, PhD | Assistant Professor, Col. K.L. Campbell Chair in Companion Animal Welfare | Department of Population Medicine | Ontario Veterinary College | 2526 Stewart Building | Guelph, ON | Tel, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53030 | niell@uoguelph.ca

Stephanie Torrey

Stephanie Torrey

Dr. Torrey is a Research Associate in Animal Welfare in the Department of Animal Biosciences. Her research focuses on poultry behaviour and welfare particularly with meat birds. Interdisciplinary projects link genetics, nutrition, physiology and production. Dr Torrey’s fundamental research includes studies into the development of feeding and oral behaviour.

Departmental webpage

DR STEPHANIE TORREY | Poultry Welfare Group | Department of Animal Biosciences| University of Guelph | Guelph, ON | 519-824-4120 Ext. 53660|storrey@uoguelph.ca

Pat Turner

Patricia Turner

Dr. Turner, in the Department of Pathobiology, is interested in the study of anesthesia and analgesia of laboratory animals, euthanasia of production animals, and the impact of animal environment on affective behaviour and disease susceptibility.

Departmental webpage

DR PATRICIA TURNER | Professor | Department of Pathobiology | Ontario Veterinary College | University of Guelph | Guelph, ON | Tel, 519-824-4120 Ext. 54497 | pvturner@uoguelph.ca

Tina Widowski

Tina Widowski

Dr. Tina Widowski is an animal welfare scientist interested in how the housing and management of farm animals affects their welfare. With training in behaviour and physiology, she uses a variety of measures to try to understand how animals perceive and respond to the environments that we keep them in and to the ways that we handle them. She has studied diverse topics such as the endocrinology of nest building in sows, the behavioural responses of hens to different lighting systems, the ontogeny of feeding and drinking in piglets and motivation for dust bathing and nesting in laying hens. Her research group has tackled some difficult issues including transport and handling of market pigs and methods for euthanasia of piglets and poultry. Her goal is to determine how we can match agricultural systems to the animals’ behavioural biology in order to develop good practices for their care. As Egg Farmers of Canada Research Chair in Poultry Welfare, Widowski's research is now focusing on how alternative housing systems for growing pullets and adult laying hens affect their behaviour, bone health and welfare and how age and experience of breeder hens (the mothers of the laying hen) affects the behaviour of their daughters (laying hens).

Departmental webpage

DR TINA WIDOWSKI | Professor | Egg Farmers of Canada Research Chair in Poultry Welfare | Colonel K.L. Campbell University Chair in Animal Welfare | Director, The Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare | Department of Animal Biosciences | University of Guelph | Guelph, ON | Tel, 519-824-4120 Ext. 52408 | twidowsk@uoguelph.ca