Harper Adams University: Harper Adams Animal Behaviour Professor is latest President of International Society for Applied Ethology

An international society dedicated to the applied study of animal behaviour has appointed a Harper Adams Professor as its latest President.

Professor of Applied Animal Behaviour at Harper Adams Mark Rutter took up his role at The International Society for Applied Ethology this summer and will serve as President until 2023.

The society – which has almost 700 members around the globe – began in 1966 as the Society for Veterinary Ethology but soon expanded to cover all kinds of behaviour relevant to human-animal interactions such as farming, wildlife management, the keeping of companion and laboratory animals, and the control of pests.

It holds both an annual congress and a series of regional meetings at various locations around the world.

At this year’s congress, Professor Rutter was formally appointed to his role – and while the event ran differently to normal, due to restrictions caused by coronavirus, he is hoping to use his term to bring the society back to a ‘new normal.’

He said: “This year’s conference was due to be held in India – but coronavirus meant that wasn’t possible, so we held a virtual congress instead.

“We’re hoping that – if things improve in the coming year – we will hold our next congress in North Macedonia in 2022.

“Once of the main jobs for me will be getting the Society back to those face to face meetings – but also keeping some of the good parts we’ve discovered over the last 18 months. Our virtual meetings have been a lot more inclusive, and a lot more people were able to join in that virtual manner – so we want to build on that, with both in-person and virtual elements.”

Another area where Professor Rutter hopes to make changes to the way the society operates is through seeking to reduce the carbon emissions its members generate – and he is hoping to lead by example when he travels to the society’s next congress.

He added: “We have had a big reduction in carbon emissions during the pandemic – we are an international organisation, but there are obviously far fewer flights for a virtual conference – so we want to look at that too.

“As President, I am planning on getting the train to our next congress in North Macedonia and have already been looking into it- it is a two-day trip from the UK by train but worth it!”

The role of the society means that its members study all kinds of animal behaviour – and the nature of its work means that a range of his Harper Adams colleagues serve alongside Professor Rutter in various roles.

These include Lecturer in Animal Welfare Dr Gemma Charlton, and Dr Ellen Williams, Lecturer in Animal Behaviour and Welfare.

Professor Rutter added: “It is good to serve alongside Harper Adams colleagues in the society – the work that we do as a University feeds into the work of the society, and vice-versa.

“Those strong links are also reflected in the roles that our colleagues play in other societies too – and shows that the expertise of Harper’s academics is very much valued in their respective fields.”

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