Recognition for pig behaviour researcher

Dr Simon Turner, an internationally recognised expert on aggressiveness in farm animals has been awarded a Readership by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC). His conferment of a Readership in Applied Ethology (the study of natural behaviour in animals) was made at the SRUC’s annual graduation ceremony at the University of Glasgow. The title Reader is awarded to a senior academic with a distinguished international reputation in research and scholarship.

Dr Turner’s research is on social behaviour in farm animals. He’s particularly interested in the role of selective breeding to produce farm animals more suited to the environments in which they are kept. This has particularly focused on aggressive behaviours in pigs, which is a worldwide problem.

With both animal welfare and human safety in mind, he has also published work on the temperament of beef cattle, especially during handling and following calving. More recently he was involved in a study into the housing of game birds.

Announcing the award, SRUC vice-principal professor Geoff Simm said Dr Turner’s research publications were widely cited by other researchers in the field, and had won him a growing international reputation.

“He has presented his research widely and uses it extensively in his teaching,” he added. “He also has a very impressive track record of winning more than £1 million as principal investigator from a number of UK (Defra, BBSRC) and European funding sources, and contributed significantly to the successful winning of many other grants for the UK and EU.”

A strong advocate of knowledge exchange, Dr Turner has presented major invited papers at the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, and European Association for Animal Production. He is currently supervising three PhD students and regularly supervises MSc students each year.

“Dr Turner is a highly respected research collaborator,” Professor Simm said. “He’s currently working with scientists from Wageningnen in the Netherlands, the Swedish University of Life Sciences, INRA, Michigan State University and Copenhagen University, which demonstrates the high regard in which he is held by other scientists around the world.

“He is developing work, for example in social genetics and game theory, that’s important and relevant to animal welfare and production, but also deals with basic science questions underpinning the basis of social behaviour.”

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