8 February 2018

Saskia Arndt appointed Professor of Animal Behaviour

The Executive Board has appointed Saskia Arndt to the post of Professor of Animal Behaviour at the Department of Animals in Science and Society, effective from 1 February 2018. Her research and education mainly focus on questions such as: what can we learn about the behaviour of animals? And how can we measure the welfare of animals based on their behaviour? The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine strives to shape public opinions in the area of animal welfare, both in the Netherlands and abroad. The new chair in Animal Behaviour and the planned chair in Animal Welfare at the Department of Animals in Science and Society will help the faculty increase its profile in that area.

Society is paying increasing attention to the behaviour of animals. Popular science books on the subject often turn out to be bestsellers. An animal’s behaviour reveals quite a bit about its emotional state and its ability to adapt to its living conditions. The better an animal is able to adapt to changing surroundings, probably the better it is for the animal’s welfare. But Saskia Arndt aims to study how the process works, exactly, together with her colleagues at the departments of Animals in Science and Society and Farm Animal Health.

“I am extremely pleased with this appointment”, says Arndt. “It allows me to make an essential contribution to the faculty’s mission when it comes to animal welfare. In this post, I can use my expertise, vision and passion to support current and future veterinarians and to work with my colleagues to come up with sustainable strategies for animal welfare.”

This appointment allows me to make an essential contribution to the faculty's mission when it comes to animal welfare

“In our research, education and social activities, it is vital that we focus on behaviour as the most important, directly observable characteristic of the animal’s emotional state and its ability to adapt. Veterinarians need knowledge and expertise about animal behaviour in order to fulfil their role as ‘guardian of animal welfare’ and expert for clinical ethology. Our faculty plays a key role in Laboratory Animal Science, both in the Netherlands and internationally. Behavioural expertise is an indispensable element in maintaining that position.”

Saskia Arndt (1970) studied Biology at the University of Giessen in Germany, and earned her Master’s in Biology (specialism in Ethology) at the University of Cologne. She has conducted research into the behaviour of primates at the lab led by Prof. Frans de Waal in Atlanta, USA. In 2004, she earned her PhD ‘Summa Cum Laude’ at the Medical faculty of the University of Cologne. In 2005, Arndt began work as a postdoc researcher at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Animals in Science and Society. In 2016, she was appointed Associate Professor of Animal Welfare and Behaviour. In addition to studying animal behaviour and welfare, Arndt has spent years on the refinement of animal experiments,  on the validity of animal models, as well as on the formation of attitudes, professional- and personal integrity when using (laboratory) animals in research. She is a member of the Utrecht Life Sciences 3Rs Centre, the UU spokesperson for ‘Welfare of Animals in Research’, and has served as a member of the Faculty Council since 2011.