Aarhus University Anniversary Foundation Research Communication Prize

The Aarhus University Anniversary Foundation Research Communication Prize is awarded in recognition of outstanding and groundbreaking communication of knowledge from the university to society. The prize is accompanied by a DKK 100,000 monetary Award.

Professor Lene Munksgaard

Professor Lene Munksgaard is the recipient of the 2017 Aarhus University Anniversary Foundation Research Communication Prize

Professor Lene Munksgaard is one of the leading figures in Danish research on ethology and animal welfare. Together with her research group, Behaviour and Stress Biology at the Department of Animal Science, she has developed methods of quantifying the behavioural needs of dairy cattle.

Munksgaard’s research contributes to a more informed debate on the behavioural needs of livestock, legislation on animal welfare in agriculture and not least the development of more humane cattle stalls. She is behind internationally recognized studies of the lying behaviour of dairy cattle, and has most recently developed methods for using sensors to automatically identifying lame cows. The results of her work contribute to the development of systems and stalls which accommodate the animals’ natural lying behaviour and need for rest, a significant contribution to improved animal welfare.

Munksgaard plays an important role in public debate, contributing to improvements in animal welfare by providing solid facts to the parties involved in animal welfare.

“There are many different opinions about the welfare of agricultural animals in modern agriculture, and there is often criticism of production methods in public and political debate. The debate is often very intense and characterised by feelings, and at times by a lack of knowledge about the needs and biology of the animals as well.

This is why I view contributing knowledge based on the many research projects performed here at Aarhus University as a central task,” says Munksgaard. She has also focused on communicating the results of international research in order to make this knowledge accessible to both Danish agriculture and society in general.

As a teacher and lecturer, she has communicated her knowledge about animal behaviour and welfare to students from a wide variety of backgrounds, from farmers, agricultural consultant and veterinarians to companies which produce dairy farming equipment. Her commitment, deep expertise and breadth of experience (including hands-on experience with agriculture as a consultant early in her career) mean all of the people she teaches learn something new and extremely valuable, from new biology graduates to practising veterinarians with over 20 years of experience. Lene is current a member of the animal welfare council appointed by the ministry.