About Us

About Us

The Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law Veterinary Association (AWSELVA) was founded in 1995 to promote understanding and debate on topical animal welfare issues.

AWSELVA provides opportunities for all those with an interest in animal welfare to develop informed views and to learn more about animal welfare science, as well as relevant ethics and law.

What we do

AWSELVA’s vision is a global society that provides a good quality of life for animals

Our mission

Our Mission is to promote the welfare of animals through raising awareness and understanding of animal welfare science and ethics, and their application to policy and practice.

AWSELVA achieves this by providing the following:

Who we are


The present committee and officers of the Association are:


President, Dr Becky Whay

Becky is Senior Lecturer in Animal Welfare and Behaviour, and Head of the Animal Welfare and Behaviour Research Group at the University of Bristol. She graduated from the University of Leeds with an honours degree in agricultural animal science in 1994 and was awarded a PhD from Bristol University in 1998 following work to improve methods of pain relief for UK dairy cattle. Becky has used participatory methodologies in activities such as the Healthy Feet Project in the UK and working equine intervention programmes in India and Pakistan.  She has worked in collaboration with the Brooke Hospital for Animals, the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and Send a Cow on a number of projects aimed at facilitating welfare improvement among working equines and production animals in developing countries.

 Senior Vice President/Membership Secretary, Ed Varley

Ed is a founder member of AWSELVA and holds the Certificate in Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.  After working in mixed practice, he began a career in the State Veterinary Service, most recently working at the heart of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs animal welfare policy group. He has been a veterinary advisor to the Farm Animal Welfare Council for more than 15 years. He is a trustee of the British Veterinary Association Animal Welfare Foundation. In November 2012 he promoted AWSELVA at the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Third Global Animal Welfare Conference in Kuala Lumpur. He believes in the extrinsic and intrinsic value of animals, in animal sentience and the importance of the human-animal interaction. He recognises that animal health and welfare has ethical, cultural, scientific, economic, environmental and political dimensions, and that these cannot usually be pursued in isolation.

Junior Vice President, Paul Roger

Paul is a founder member of AWSELVA and holds the RCVS Certificate in AWSEL and has been granted de facto diplomate status by the European College of Animal Welfare and Behavioural Medicine (ECAWBM) in the sub-speciality. He worked in rural agricultural practice for 25 years before leaving to set up a consultancy in Sheep Health and Production (he is an RCVS and European Recognised Specialist in this area) and in Farm Animal Welfare. He is currently a member of the British Veterinary Association (BVA) Ethics and Welfare group and of the Sheep Health and Welfare Group (which reports to the Animal Health and Welfare Board for England). He particularly enjoys the friendly and frank discussions generated by AWSELVA's meetings and is happy to join and participate with a strong presidential team and with the developing impetus that is spreading AWSELVA's development across the EU and beyond. Paul's main interests are around practical implementation and delivery of welfare assessment and the inclusion of these ideas within the farm health plan as well as ethical issues affecting both animals and the veterinary profession.

Secretary, Vanessa Ashall

Vanessa qualified from Liverpool Vet School in 2000 and spent three years in mixed practice in Yorkshire. In 2004 she became Named Veterinary Surgeon (NVS) at the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition then joined Pet Blood Bank UK as Veterinary Ethics and Welfare Supervisor in 2007. She gained the RCVS Certificate in Welfare Science, Ethics and Law in 2008 and an MA in Medical Ethics and Law (Keele) in 2014. Vanessa joined Nottingham University Veterinary School as Wellcome Trust Clinical Fellow in Ethics and Society in 2013 and her current research focuses on Ethics and Society in animal blood and organ donation. Vanessa’s general area of interest is veterinary professional ethics. She would like to further explore the use of medical ethics as a comparator to veterinary ethics and is particularly interested in ethical and legal boundaries; for example between clinical practice and veterinary research, and the influence of ethics in current and future veterinary legislation.



Treasurer, Dr Steven McCulloch

Steven qualified as a veterinary surgeon from Bristol University in 2002 and has since practised in the UK and Hong Kong. He holds a BA Philosophy from Birbeck College, London University. In 2015, Steven was awarded a PhD by the Royal Veterinary College, University of London, for his thesis ‘The British animal health and welfare policy process: accounting for the interests of sentient species’. The thesis is critical of current policy-making mechanisms in Britain and recommends reforms such as a mandatory Animal Welfare Impact Assessment (AWIA) and an independent Ethics Council for Animal Policy. The thesis analyses the policy issues of (i) wild animals in travelling circuses, (ii) bovine TB and badger culling, and (iii) large indoor dairies. Steven is currently writing papers for submission based on his thesis and other work. Steven is the sub-editor (ethics) for the Journal of the AWSELVA. He is the AWSELVA representative organising the ECAWBM/AWSELVA/ESVCE/PsiAnimal Congress to be held at Cascais, Portugal in October 2016. Steven coordinates the monthly ‘Everyday Ethics’ column in the professional veterinary journal In Practice.


 Website Co-ordinator, Sean Wensley 

Sean qualified from Liverpool Vet School in 2003, then obtained a Masters degree in Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare from Edinburgh Vet School in 2004. After 3 years working in both companion animal and exotics veterinary practices he joined PDSA as Senior Veterinary Surgeon for Communication and Education.
Sean has contributed to animal welfare and conservation projects in East Africa, China, India, Continental Europe and the Caribbean. He is a member of the Companion Animal Welfare Council (CAWC), an Honorary Lecturer in Animal Welfare at the University of Nottingham, a trustee of the British Veterinary Association (BVA) Animal Welfare Foundation and has served on the BVA Ethics and Welfare Group and the BVA Overseas Group. He is President of the BVA, 2015-2016.


International Liaison Officer, Dr Siobhan Mullan

Following graduation from the University of Glasgow Veterinary School in 1997 Siobhan worked in mixed and then small animal practice whilst concurrently studying for the RCVS Certificate and then Diploma in Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law (AWSEL). She has gradually spent more time researching animal welfare and her research interests have ranged from pet rabbits to farmed pigs. Her research is focussed on applying the results of welfare assessment to initiate improvements in animal welfare. Siobhan also co-ordinates the Everyday Ethics column in the In Practice veterinary journal and is a founder member of the European Veterinary College sub-speciality of AWSEL. When she's not working Siobhan can be found spending time with her family, riding her bike or playing her bagpipes - but not all at the same time.


Journal Editor, Dr James Yeates

James is Chief Veterinary Officer of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). He currently serves on the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) Scientific Committee, the International Fund for Cat Welfare, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) Council and is a former Chair of the BVA Ethics and Welfare Group. His research interests include veterinary ethics, animal welfare concepts and policymaking.




Assistant Journal Editor, Dr Pete Goddard 

Pete graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in 1979.  He leads the Ecology Group at the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen; one particular focus of this group is upland game management.  His major research interest is in small ruminant welfare, in particular related to extensively managed systems.  He is a trustee of the British Veterinary Association Animal Welfare Foundation (BVA AWF).    





Student Liaison Officer, Nancy Clarke

Nancy’s background and formal qualifications are in human psychology, applied animal behaviour and welfare science, and education. She’s worked in animal welfare education for over 8 years, both as a lecturer and programme director within tertiary education. Nancy has also worked practically as a canine and equine behaviour/welfare consultant, providing in-house staff training in animal behaviour/welfare for animal charities/NGOs. Her research has mostly concerned pain assessment and attitudes towards animal welfare within the veterinary profession which she continues to study by undertaking a PhD at Bristol University. Nancy aspires to encourage awareness of, and public engagement with, animal welfare science.


 John Cranley


Dan Fraser

Dan acts as a veterinary expert witness and is part of the team that keeps Black's Veterinary Dictionary up to date. He has assisted in a case of wildlife crime and regularly reads "Legal Eagle", the investigations newsletter of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).


Dr Sophia Hepple

Sophia qualified from the University of Bristol in 1995 and in 2011 became an RCVS Specialist in Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law, having previously taken the Certificate and Diploma. She is a veterinary adviser in the Animal Health & Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA), responsible for veterinary advice to DEFRA’s policy development & Government partners’ implementation/review (including training) in the field of farm animal welfare (including transport, markets and cross compliance inspections), both in the UK and at European & international levels. She is the UK Government OIE contact for animal welfare, responsible for coordinating the UK response to OIE welfare codes and is the principal government veterinary adviser to the Farm Animal Welfare Committee (FAWC). She oversees AHVLA veterinary laboratory surveillance (forensics and post-mortems) for welfare and is involved in developing, managing and reviewing DEFRA’s research and development portfolio in animal welfare. In her spare time she rears her large brood of over-stocked children in a messy but enriched environment in Somerset.

Richard Jennison

Richard qualified as a veterinary surgeon from Edinburgh University in 1997.  He holds the RCVS Certificates in Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law and Poultry Medicine and Production, and is a Lantra-approved trainer.  He has worked as a mixed and small animal veterinary surgeon in East Yorkshire and Essex.  He currently works in poultry practice in Herefordshire.  He is a member of the RSPCA working groups for laying hens and pullets.


Valerie Jonkheer-Sheehy

Valerie graduated from the Veterinary College of Ireland, University College Dublin in 2003. She worked as a veterinarian in mixed practice in Wales; the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) and Eurogroup for Animals in Brussels; for a local horse racing track (flat racers) and a companion animal clinic in Mumbai, India. In 2006 she attained a Masters in Laboratory Animal Science (Ghent University, Belgium); her Masters thesis was on “The care and use of horses and ponies as research animals” with a focus on behaviour and welfare. During that time Valerie visited equine research centres in India, The Netherlands and the UK. In 2010 Valerie attained a Certificate in Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, UK). After her time in India, Valerie spent almost 4 years at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University in the Netherlands where she worked as a behaviour veterinarian, behaviour/welfare researcher and lecturer. Valerie now works at Animalytics Veterinary Behavioural Medicine and Animal Welfare Consultancy in the Netherlands as a behaviour veterinarian, animal welfare consultant, researcher and lecturer.


Dr Gareth Pearce


Dr Clare Phythian

Clare currently works as a specialist sheep vet in South West Norway working with local vets and farmers in all aspects of flock health, welfare and production. Previously she worked full-time as a sheep vet in the UK and most recently was responsible for the delivery of best practice advice on sheep health, welfare and production on a flock health planning project across South West England. After several years working in practice, she completed a PhD in sheep welfare assessment and remains active in providing CPD and sheep welfare training for farm assessors and vets both in the UK and overseas.


Kimberly Wells

Kim has been part of the Brooke’s Animal Welfare & Research team for over six years.  As their Senior Welfare Advisor, she enjoys working within an international context and collaborating with field staff who are striving to improve the welfare of working equine animals in Asia, Africa and Latin America.  Her qualifications include a BSc in Animal Bioscience from The Pennsylvania State University, an MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour & Welfare from the University of Edinburgh and certifications in veterinary nursing and adult teaching.  She is also an external lay member of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute’s Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body.  Kim really values the opportunities to learn from others and contribute to discussions and debates about the welfare status and ethical treatment of all animals, which AWSELVA provides.