AWI Refinement Research Award

Mouse - Photo by Novartis AG

Promoting Ideas to Improve the Welfare of Animals in Experimentation

AWI offers awards of up to US$15,000 to develop and test innovative methods of refinement to the care, husbandry, or housing of animals in experimentation to improve their welfare.

Application Deadline

  • The 2023 competition is now closed. The 2024 competition will open mid-August.
  • If you would like to receive an email notification when the submission process begins each year, please send an email to [email protected]. You will be able to remove yourself from this email list at any time.

Application Requirements

  • This award is open to residents of the United States or Canada, and the project must be conducted in the United States or Canada.
  • Projects can be conducted in any setting (laboratory, farm, zoo, sanctuary, shelter, etc.) but the results/implications must have reasonable potential to improve the lives of animals used in experimentation.
  • Projects that inflict avoidable stress or require killing animals will not be funded.
  • It is AWI policy that no award funds can be used for indirect costs (e.g., overhead) or for the purchase of animals, unless they will be rehomed (i.e., adopted or retired to a sanctuary) at the end of the study. Salaries or stipends may be included in the proposal.
  • Applicants are asked to submit a completed application form, a resume/CV and a letter of support/recommendation. Click here to preview the application form.

Additional Information

  • Award notifications for the 2023 competition were sent in December 2023.
  • Proposals may be part of other research projects, but the portion included in the proposal should be broadly applicable, and the research component must be completed within one year (shorter durations are encouraged).
  • Award recipients must agree to submit a 500-word summary of the results of the project, including photographs (if applicable), at its conclusion. This summary may be edited for potential publication, with the recipient’s approval, in the AWI Quarterly magazine. Summaries for the 2023 award recipients are due no later than February 28, 2025.
  • Award recipients must agree to submit their results for publication in an appropriate journal or presentation at a widely attended scientific meeting.
  • For additional information, please contact [email protected].
  • Robert Gerlai of the University of Toronto Mississauga for developing new handling methods to reduce stress and anxiety in zebrafish.
  • Kristina Horback of the University of California, Davis for studying the impact of enriched housing on the learning ability, social behavior, and overall welfare of laboratory-housed sows.
  • Maya Bodnar of the University of British Columbia for refining the “drop” method for induction of anesthesia in mice.
  • Lace Lively of Texas Biomedical Research Institute for investigating the link between compassion fatigue in laboratory animal care professionals and the social housing status of nonhuman primates at the facilities where they work (i.e., whether primates are housed singly or in pairs/groups).
  • Jouvay Pantophlet of CUNY's College of Staten Island for testing the usefulness and safety of waste newspaper processed into compressed columns as burrowing substrate for naked mole-rats.
  • Raymond Vagell of Texas State University for determining whether cognitive testing affects stress levels in lemurs, using a noninvasive salivary cortisol test.
  • Dr. Becca Franks of New York University for investigating play behavior in fish; specifically, whether fish engage in play behavior, what circumstances elicit it (e.g., air bubbles), and how play can be used to assess welfare in this taxon.
  • Alexander Greig of Texas Biomedical Research Institute for assessing the behavioral and physiological effects of implementing visual barriers in the housing of captive marmosets to reduce social stress.
  • Dr. Julie Menard of the University of Calgary for testing a noninvasive alternative to sampling the intestinal microbiome in dogs. RELATED PUBLICATION
  • Dr. Cathy Schuppli of the University of British Columbia for developing a positive reinforcement training program for laboratory-housed pigs and mice to improve human-animal interactions in the research setting.
  • Dr. Lucía Améndola of the University of British Columbia for a systematic review of the literature to critically evaluate the effects of different environmental enrichment strategies on affective states in mice.
  • Brittney Armitage-Brown of Queen’s University for testing rhesus macaque preferences for physical versus touchscreen-based tasks used as cognitive enrichment.
  • Dr. Giridhar Athrey and Constance Woodman of Texas A&M University for testing the suitability of 3D printing materials for use as environmental enrichment items for laboratory birds and other species. RELATED PUBLICATION
  • Dr. Christopher Cheleuitte-Nieves of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for assessing the effects of natural, species-appropriate, visual environments on stress and behavior of indoor-housed macaques and African green monkeys.
  • Margaret Dye of the Duke Lemur Center for building and assessing an enrichment management tracking system for documenting and monitoring multiple enrichment activities that impact an animal’s environment and welfare.
  • Sasha Prasad-Shreckengast of CUNY Hunter College for a project assessing voluntary interaction of carp with novel environmental enrichment items that promote cognitive stimulation and agency. RELATED PUBLICATION
  • Dr. Lucía Améndola of the University of British Columbia for assessing the welfare benefits of using playpens for research mice.
  • Dr. Rachel Dennis of the University of Maryland for assessing the effectiveness of specific environmental enrichments on laboratory quail welfare.
  • Dr. Brianna Gaskill of Purdue University for analyzing social networks of group-housed male laboratory mice to identify effective interventions for aggression. RELATED PUBLICATION
  • Dr. Nicole Herndon of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign for assessing best practices for helping research dogs retire to forever homes.
  • Rachel van Vliet of McGill University for investigating the use of species-specific behavior by animal care staff as a source of enrichment for macaques and marmosets in laboratories. RELATED PUBLICATION
  • Dr. Kathleen Coda of the University of Illinois at Chicago for developing and validating environmental enrichment strategies to improve the welfare of rabbits housed in standard-size laboratory cages. RELATED PUBLICATION
  • Dr. Brianna Gaskill of Purdue University for investigating the link between laboratory personnel’s professional quality of life and the provision of environmental enrichment to animals under their care. RELATED PUBLICATION