UK trip

26 03 2015

Screenshot 2015-03-20 17.15.36Just back from a UK trip where, aside from seeing friends and family, I taught at the London Zoo for an afternoon, and (the main event) gave a keynote at a BBSRC/NC3Rs meeting. The London Zoo teaching was fun as ever (I do this once a year for the RVC), as the students on the two courses (MScs in Wild Animal Health/Biology) are so nice and interactive (a very international bunch too). I got asked to autograph a reprint, which was a first!

The next day was the meeting, “Novel methods for measuring and assessing animal welfare”. My keynote was last, so I spent the day stewing in adrenaline, and tweaking the lecture to complement the other talks. It went well – the content (essentially the basics of how to validate a welfare measure) seemed to go down well, my timing was almost perfect, and they laughed at my jokes. (Carole sneakily took this pic of me with her phone – there was a strict no photos/no tweeting policy as most people were presenting work in progress). Very happy when it was over, and then I could have fun. It was especially great to catch up with Mike (Mendl), Charlie (Burn), Carole (Fureix), Melissa (Bateson), Christine (Nicol), Suzanne (Held) and Jake (Veasey). And over the day itself, despite my growing nervous tension, I did hear and learn some very interesting things. There were three presentations on assessing the cort output of fish/amphibians by sampling water from their aquaria (a great idea I’d not come across before); a fascinating talk on primate facial expressions by Sarah Jane Vick (aiming to use them to assess post-operative pain and nausea); and a brilliant (as ever) presentation by Marian Dawkins on how changes in the the mass movement of crowds of broilers provide early warnings of disease and lameness (with clever automated devices then sending signals to the managers’ phones…).

The other big event was an eclipse on the Friday. London was blanketed by classic British grey cloud, so all I saw was it getting a bit gloomy for half an hour, but the sky was clear in Bristol and Mike managed to get this nice image, projected through binoculars onto paper.