Dr. Janice Swanson receives prestigious 2024 AVMA Humane Award

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(SCHAUMBURG, Illinois) June 13, 2024—The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has awarded Janice Swanson, PhD, professor emeritus and former director of animal welfare at Michigan State University, with the 2024 AVMA Humane Award.

The AVMA Humane Award is given to a non-veterinarian to recognize achievement in advancing the welfare of animals through leadership, public service, education, research, product development or advocacy. It is one of three Animal Welfare and Human-Animal Bond Excellence Awards presented annually by the AVMA and supported through educational funding from Merck Animal Health.

“I am a deeply humbled and appreciative recipient of this prestigious award,” said Dr. Swanson. “As many of my colleagues know, you don’t do this work alone – it takes a village. I have been fortunate to work with scientific and veterinary colleagues, farmers and ranchers, and the food industry to improve practices that promote the welfare of farm animals. And especially my colleagues who embrace the concept that all farm animals deserve a life worth living.”

Dr. Swanson's career spans over three decades, beginning with her role as technical information specialist for the USDA’s newly formed Animal Welfare Information Center in 1987. She commenced her academic career at Kansas State University in 1992 then  joined the faculty at Michigan State University in 2007. Since that time, Dr. Swanson has become a recognized leader and pivotal figure in animal welfare extension, research and education. She has held leadership roles in numerous organizations, including the International Society for Applied Ethology, Professional Animal Auditors Certification Organization (PAACO), United Egg Producers (UEP) and various other scientific and advisory committees for industry and government agencies.

Dr. Swanson has facilitated dialogue between scientists and livestock and poultry producers to help the industry identify opportunities for continuous improvement amid challenges, such as transitions to cage-free housing, highly pathogenic avian influenza and COVID-19. Her industry experiences have informed applied research projects exploring how egg producers transition to cage-free housing, multi-institution collaborations like the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply Project, and various federal and industry projects addressing issues and problems associated with laying hen welfare. Her work also extends across farm species through projects and outreach related to animal management and handling practices and animal welfare assessment and auditing programs.

Dr. Swanson’s tenure at Michigan State University has been particularly influential. As professor and director of animal welfare at the university, Dr. Swanson has led extensive outreach, teaching and research initiatives on farm animal welfare, focusing on social responsibility in the food system. She has co-chaired the third edition of the Federation of Animal Science Societies’ Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals and chaired the Michigan taskforce for the Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices for the Care of Farm Animals from 2008-2021. Beginning this year, Dr. Swanson serves as a professor emeritus at MSU.

Dr. Swanson’s portfolio includes numerous peer-reviewed publications addressing the welfare of poultry, cattle and swine, as well as the ethical implications of animal husbandry practices. She has also been a key figure in developing welfare standards and auditing processes that have been adopted internationally.

“Dr. Swanson stands as a beacon of excellence in the field of animal welfare,” said Dr. Rena Carlson, president of the AVMA. “Her dedication to ethical standards and her collaborative approach in advancing animal care are truly commendable, and she is a very deserving recipient of the 2024 AVMA Animal Welfare Award.”

For more information, contact Michael San Filippo, media relations manager, at 847-732-6194 (cell/text) or msanfilippoatavma [dot] org (msanfilippo[at]avma[dot]org).  

About the AVMA

Serving more than 105,000 member veterinarians, the AVMA is the nation's leading representative of the veterinary profession, dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of animals, humans and the environment. Founded in 1863 and with members in every U.S. state and territory and more than 60 countries, the AVMA is one of the largest veterinary medical organizations in the world. Informed by our members' unique scientific training and clinical knowledge, the AVMA supports the crucial work of veterinarians and advocates for policies that advance the practice of veterinary medicine and improve animal and human health.