Penguins swimming in a deep blue pool in a zoo

CCSAW Student and Postdoc Activities

Our lively, committed students and post docs quite simply make CCSAW what it is! From running ethology conferences, to competing in the national 3 Minute Thesis competition, they’re an impressive bunch of individuals. But collectively, the international group of 50+ grad students and post docs working with CCSAW’s core faculty also makes for a great community.

For example, we learn and support one another via weekly meetings involving journal clubs, practice defences and conference talks, analyses of welfare and research problems, and discussions of EDI issues. During our monthly research seminars we also meet with visiting scientists, and annually the students participate in our research symposium (chaired by our post docs).

Our graduate students run further events, while honing their leadership skills and connecting with the undergraduate community, via the CCSAW Student Chapter. Grad students and undergrads, along with DVMs too, can also gain valuable experience by competing internationally in our Welfare Judging Teams. In addition, CCSAW supports a new Animal Studies reading group, and two specialist DVM clubs. Read on for details!

CCSAW Student Chapter

The Campbell Centre Student Chapter is an active group of graduate and undergraduate students, focussed on learning and sharing animal welfare science, ethics and principles.  To join the Student Chapter, and be the first to know about upcoming events and activities, please email

The Student Chapter’s annual activities include:

  • A behind-the-scenes tour of the Toronto Zoo, where students learn about the zoo’s animal care policies and procedures, the ways in which they promote the welfare of their animals by enclosure design, enrichment, feeding strategies, training procedures etc. Students are given the opportunity to ask questions and critically discuss these practices.
  • A behind-the-scenes tour of the university’s Central Animal Facility, where students learn about how research animals are cared for, and how their welfare is assessed and improved.
  • A Graduate Student Panel where interested students are invited to hear and learn about graduate student life with CCSAW Core Faculty (and which has generated a great FAQ for prospective grad students).
  • Research seminars focused on animal welfare science and careers.
  • Movie nights featuring documentaries and fictional films to do with animal welfare.

Animal Welfare Judging Teams

Each year several University of Guelph teams, in undergraduate and DVM categories as well as graduate, participate in the AVMA’s annual Animal Welfare Assessment Contest. Teams are coached by CCSAW animal welfare faculty (while gaining course credit in ANSC*4010). Thanks to funding from Saputo, CCSAW also supports their travel to the competition venue each year. Students are trained to assess the welfare of animals in a variety of settings, using science-based methods and evidence, and to weigh evidence and present sound evaluations. This provides a unique educational experience while strengthening verbal and reasoning skills. It ensures that tomorrow’s leaders in animal welfare develop strong communication skills. It’s also a lot of fun, and a great way for welfare-interested graduate, undergraduate and DVM students to get to know each other.

Read about the team’s six top-five finishes during the 2022 competition.

Animal Studies Reading Group

An Animal Studies Reading Group has been convened by Dr Lauren Van Patter and Quinn Rausch (, bringing together CCSAW faculty and graduate students interested in human-animal relationships, animals in society, the lives of animals, and animal ethics from diverse disciplinary approaches.

OVC Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare Clubs

For DVM students, CCSAW supports the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) Animal Behaviour Club and Animal Welfare Club.

For the Welfare Club, which exists to increase awareness and provoke dialogue on animal welfare issues within OVC and the greater community, sign in through the Club’s GryphLife page to connect with them, and follow their Facebook page for updates! Each year the club hosts a one-day forum, as well as various lunch-time talks, educational excursions, and other activities.