AWES Lab preference chamber

The ultimate goal of the AWES Lab is to identify win-win-win scenarios for animals, animal managers, and a concerned society.

The research of the Animal Welfare and Environmental Systems Laboratory (AWES Lab) at the University of Illinois focuses on improving animal husbandry, primarily for commercial agriculture and research laboratory settings. Our team is multidisciplinary, bringing together scientists and students in engineering, animal science, veterinary medicine, and other related fields. We are not species-specific, and have worked with laying hens, broiler chickens, turkeys, pigs, beef cattle, dairy cattle, laboratory mice, and even humans.

The AWES Lab approach to scientific discovery integrates education, fundamental science, hands-on experience, and common sense. We promote thinking outside the box to solve problems faced in animal housing industries, with the understanding that the historical evolution of animal husbandry offers great insight for how animals are housed and managed today. We strive not only to solve the problems of today, but understand the fundamentals of animal perceptions to offer insight for future animal husbandry practices.

Our research priorities can be divided into two main categories. The first priority is the development of methodologies for objectively assessing animal well-being, with a focus on automatic detection and quantification of physiological and behavioral responses.

The second priority is the quantification of indoor environmental conditions and assessment of their impacts on animals. We are interested in physical characteristics of housing, as well as environmental quality such as lighting, sound, thermal comfort and air quality. We also extend our studies to include animal production impacts on outdoor environment, through the area of waste management.

We take a systematic approach when assessing animal housing, with an understanding that husbandry decisions are multi-faceted, and an improvement in one area may have negative consequences to another area. We consider not only the perceptions of the animals, but also their health, the management required of the housing system, the economics of the housing system, and the potential impacts on the safety of the product. Our goal with husbandry recommendations is to optimize decision-making to maximize improvements while minimizing detriments.

Make a Gift to Support Animal Welfare Education and Research!

Clicking the "Support Online" button will take you away from the Animal Welfare and Environmental Systems Laboratory website to the University of Illinois Foundation site to complete your gift. Selecting "Support by Mail" will download a PDF document that you can print and mail.


-Gifts are tax deductible

-Gift funds are discretionary and will be used for activities such as enhancing the educational experiences of students in the AWES Lab, offsetting experiment costs for otherwise unfunded topics, and recruiting and retaining excellent graduate students.

-Previously, discretionary funds in the AWES Lab have been used to support student travel to present research at professional conferences, undergraduate research in unfunded project areas, and preliminary research studies.