U of G Names New Animal Welfare Chairs

September 30, 2010 - News Release

The University of Guelph's commitment to animal welfare has been strengthened by the appointment of three animal welfare scientists to chair positions.

Tina Widowski, a professor in the Department of Animal and Poultry Science for more than 12 years, has been named the Col. K. L. Campbell University Chair in Animal Welfare. Ian Duncan, an animal and poultry science professor for 21 years, has been named Emeritus Chair of Animal Welfare. In addition, Lee Niel has been appointed the Col. K.L. Campbell Chair in Companion Animal Welfare and an assistant professor in the Department of Population Medicine.

“These three chairs will enhance our reputation for excellence in teaching and research dedicated to improving the lives of animals,” said Maureen Mancuso, provost and vice-president (academic). “They will provide new training and learning experiences, and have a positive effect on animal welfare now and in the future.”

U of G’s Colonel K.L. Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare was the first Canadian centre dedicated to conducting research on providing a better quality of life for animals. It offers a regular series of public lectures, seminars and educational opportunities.

Guelph was also the first institution in Canada to establish an animal-care policy for animals used in research and teaching.

Widowski said she always knew she wanted to specialize in the behaviour and welfare of farm animals. As an undergraduate, she was fascinated by the applied aspects of animal behaviour in food production, and the challenges of managing food animals while protecting their welfare. Her current research focuses on how housing and management practices affect the physiology, behaviour and welfare of pigs, poultry and cattle.

“I am honoured with this appointment,” she said. “This provides the opportunity to enrich undergraduate and graduate teaching programs and will support the growth of research projects focused on animal welfare.”

In addition to the chair position, Widowski has been reappointed to another five-year term as director of the Campbell Centre for Animal Welfare.

“Tina has done a remarkable job in her initial appointment as director by increasing awareness of the mission and objectives of the centre,” said OVC dean Elizabeth Stone. “Her expertise and commitment to animal welfare are inspirational.”

Duncan, a former centre director, was one of the first people to bring a scientific approach to solving animal welfare problems. He has published more than 150 scientific papers on animal welfare. In 2000, he received the inaugural Animals and Society Course Award from the Humane Society of the United States, North America's largest animal protection organization.

Niel is a graduate of of Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia. The Vancouver native comes to U of G following post-doctoral work in behavioural neuroscience at the University of Toronto's Mississauga campus.

Her work in Guelph will be focused on assessing and mitigating pain and distress in companion animals in veterinary and shelter settings. She will also be looking at problems associated with aggressive dogs, how the problems develop and how to prevent them.

“This is the ideal job for me," she said. "I'll be doing research that I love and I get to work with cats and dogs and other animals, plus I'll be collaborating with others who are as passionate about animal welfare as I am."

Funding for the endowed companion animal welfare chair comes from a $4.25-million gift last year to the OVC animal welfare fund from the estate of Mona Campbell, a longtime supporter of U of G. The endowment funds for the University chair in animal welfare have come from her estate and from earlier contributions she made, as well as contributions from the Eden Conservation Trust and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in the 1990s.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or lhunt@uoguelph.ca, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982 or d.healey@exec.uoguelph.ca.

University of Guelph
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Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1