Professor Clive Phillips accepting the 2012 Voiceless Eureka Prize from Voiceless CEO Dana Campbell
Professor Clive Phillips of University of Queensland has won the $10,000 Voiceless Eureka Prize for Scientific Research that Contributes to Animal Protection as part of the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes.
Sponsored by Voiceless, the animal protection institute, the prize was awarded to Professor Phillips for his outstanding body of scientific research in animal protection. His achievements include identifying that the presence of ammonia is a significant welfare problem on some live export ships; evaluating the captivity of wild animals in zoos and concluding that some enclosures are too small; and establishing the link between the emotional state of cats entering shelters, their immunocompetence and disease susceptibility.
“One of science’s biggest inadequacies currently is an inability to understand what animals perceive from their situation. In my lifetime, science has advanced our understanding of the workings of the universe considerably but we have learnt little about the minds of living beings on our planet,” said Professor Phillips.
Now in its eighth year, previous winners include researchers at the University of Sydney Faculty of Veterinary Science for their paper challenging the use of the whip in thoroughbred horseracing and Dr Maxine Piggott of Monash University who developed a non-invasive, DNA-based method to study wildlife populations without animal capture.
Professor Phillips intends to head up a group of independent scientists to investigate the welfare of animals in situations where they are managed by humans, and the ethics of this utilisation of animals.
“Some welfare problems are obvious... but many problems need detailed scientific analysis to determine the best course of action. Since animals cannot easily tell us, we need covert methods to find this out,” said Professor Phillips.
Fellow finalists Professor Peter Timms of Queensland University of Technology and Dr Eric Han of University of New South Wales are also completing significant scientific work in animal protection. Professor Timms is developing a vaccine against Chlamydia in koalas of which almost 50% of the wild population is infected, while Dr Han developed an animal-free model to investigate neural injury in-vivo with human subjects.
“It is heartening to see the quality of scientific research dedicated to alleviating the suffering of animals. In this its eighth year, the Voiceless Eureka Prize attracted an impressive array of entries that showed interest in animal protection is indeed on the rise,” said Ondine Sherman, Managing Director, Voiceless.
The winner was determined by a panel of judges including Professor Richard Kingsford, Professor of Environmental Sciences, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of New South Wales; Emeritus Professor Lesley Rogers of University of New England; Professor Margaret Rose, Area Director, Research Management, Chair, NSW Animal Research Review Panel at Prince of Wales Hospital; and Ondine Sherman, Managing Director of Voiceless.
Ondine abstained from reviewing Professor Phillips’ work due to a potential conflict of interest.
For more information or to organise an interview with Professor Phillips, please contact: