Animal Behaviour, Cognition and Welfare Research Group

Innovative Solutions to Animal Health, Welfare, and Society

The Animal Behaviour, Cognition and Welfare Research Group comprises a unique team of internationally-renowned researchers working at the forefront of, and interface between, animal behaviour, cognition, health, and welfare.

Our mission is to use an inter-disciplinary approach to translate fundamental research in behaviour and cognition, to provide innovative, practical solutions for the benefit of animal health, welfare, and society.

Our interdisciplinary research benefits from strong links with members of the School of Psychology and the School of Computer Science, other research groups within Life Sciences, particularly the Evolution and Ecology group.

We collaborate both nationally and internationally with other leading universities, charities, governmental organisations, and businesses. Substantial research funding in the group has been obtained from:

In addition, we offer consultancy to those wishing to work with leading authorities in their field. This includes members of the animal care and pet food industry, agricultural producers, veterinary pharmaceutical companies, television and other media as well as clinical behaviour services.

Our facilities include internationally recognised behaviour, perception and cognition laboratories.

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Research Themes and Sustainable Development Goals

Our research is embedded in the following University research themes, a unique set of areas that key into our goals as a civic university undertaking internationally significant research with local relevance, and as researchers engaged in the pursuit of excellence. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals badges represent our research and collaborations in terms of their contribution to the issues the world faces today and into the future.

Research Activity

Name Position/Research interests
Prof Oliver Burman Professor of Animal Behaviour
01522 835453
Dr Colin Butter Associate Professor in Bioveterinary Science
Avian and comparative immunology
Dr Simon Clegg Lecturer in Animal Health and Disease
Dr Jonathan Cooper Associate Professor in Animal behaviour and welfare
01522 835276
Ms Lynn Hewison 

Teaching Practitioner in Clinical Animal Behaviour
Tatjana Hoehfutner Research Technician
Dr Tanja Kleinhappel  Research Assistant
Prof Daniel Mills Professor of Veterinary Behavioural Medicine
Veterinary behaviour
01522 835356
Prof Sandra McCune  Visiting Professor in Human Animal Interactions
Prof Christine Nicol Visiting Professor in Animal Welfare
Dr Ashley Roberts  Lecturer in Bioveterinary Science
Dr Teresa Romero Senior Lecturer
Animal behaviour, cognition and welfare
01522 835881
Dr Holly Root-Gutteridge Research Fellow
Dr Karen Staines Research Fellow
Avian immunology
Dr Ambrose Tinarwo Senior Lecturer in Animal Behaviour and Welfare
Dr Anna Wilkinson Senior Lecturer
Animal Cognition
01522 835465
Dr Hannah Wright Visiting Fellow
01522 835473
Dr Helen Zulch Visiting Fellow


Associate Members

Emile van der Zee (School of Psychology); Kerstin Meints (School of Psychology);  Kun Guo (School of Psychology); Bonaventura Majolo (School of Psychology); Todd Hogue (School of Psychology); Niko Kargas (School of Psychology); Fernando Montealegre-Z (School of Life Sciences); Carl Soulbury (School of Life Sciences) Tom Pike (School of Life Sciences).

School of Life Sciences, University of Lincoln, Brayford Pool, Lincoln. LN6 7TS 

tel: + 44 (0)1522 886654


A Sample of Recent Externally Funded Projects

Effect of light and sound on task performance in working dogs, dstl: Prof Anna Wilkinson, Dr Carl Soulsbury, Prof Daniel Mills

A review of hearing and vision in dogs compared to humans, dstl: Prof Anna Wilkinson, Prof Daniel Mills, Prof Fernando Montealegre-Z, Prof Kun Guo

The impact of a pet dog on the quality of life and welfare of adults with autism. Society for Companion Animal Studies: Dr Ana Barcelos, Prof Daniel Mills, Dr Niko Kargas

Semiochemistry and pheromonatherapy – various studies. Ceva Animal Health: Prof Daniel Mills

Characterisation of interactions between owners and dogs of toy breeds and its relationship with dogs’ behaviour. Nestle Purina: Dr Luciana Santos de Assis, Prof Daniel Mills

Does nose length affect social cognition in dogs? Nestle Purina: Dr Anjuli Barber, Prof Anna Wilkinson, Prof Daniel Mills, Prof Kun Guo

Development of a tool to assess and monitor quality of life in dogs. Dogs Trust:  Prof Daniel Mills

What is social about social learning? AR2F Prof Anna Wilkinson

Using rats as a model for scent detection dogs, dstl: Prof Anna Wilkinson, Dr Tom Pike

The effect of enclosure size on corn snake (Pantherophis guttatus) behaviour & welfare. RSPCA and World Animal Protection: Prof Oliver Burman, Prof Anna Wilkinson

α-Amylase as a non-invasive biomarker for stress in dogs. Dogs Trust: Dr Stefan Millson, Prof Oliver Burman, Prof Anna Wilkinson

Comparison between canine and human physiology – nausea, dstl:  Dr Carl Soulsbury, Dr Jonathan Cooper, Dr John Hough, Prof Anna Wilkinson

The effect of within-cage environmental complexity on corn snake (Pantherophis guttatus) behaviour & welfare. RSPCA: Prof Oliver Burman, Prof Anna Wilkinson

Impact of dogs in the office on employee commitment, social relations and work quality of life. Nestle Purina: Prof Daniel Mills

Automated predictive welfare assessment in groups of fish. NC3Rs: Prof Oliver Burman, Dr Tom Pike

A double blind placebo controlled study into the efficacy of a new supplement for the management of cribbing in horses. Smartpak: Prof Daniel Mills

Evaluating the human canine bond in families with and without specific needs. Dogs Trust: Prof Daniel Mills

Stimulus information can aid explosive detection in rats, dstl: Dr Anna Wilkinson, Dr Helen Zulch, Dr Tom Pike

Cold-blooded Care: Are cognitive judgement bias tests appropriate for use with reptiles? RSPCA: Dr Anna Wilkinson, Dr Oliver Burman

Use of Imepitoin for anxiety related problems. Boehringer Ingelheim: Prof Daniel Mills

Categorisation of odours in dogs. Office of Naval Research Global: Dr Helen Zulch, Dr Anna Wilkinson

Welfare of Happy Eggs Free Range Hens. Cirkle: Dr Jonathan Cooper

Factors affecting working performance of odour detection dogs, dstl: Prof Daniel Mills, Dr Helen Zulch

Developing a novel cognitive approach to assessing affective state in animals. BBSRC: Prof Oliver Burman

New approaches to food preference in cats. Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition: Prof Oliver Burman, Prof Daniel Mills

Representative Recent Publications

(for a full list of publications, please go to individual ABCW Group member pages).

China, L., Mills, D. S., & Cooper, J. J. (2020). Efficacy of Dog Training With and Without Remote Electronic Collars vs. a Focus on Positive Reinforcement. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 7, 508.

Mills, D. S., Demontigny-Bédard, I., Gruen, M., Klinck, M. P., McPeake, K. J., Barcelos, A. M., ... & Koch, C. (2020). Pain and Problem Behavior in Cats and Dogs. Animals, 10(2), 318.

Barcelos, A. M., Kargas, N., Maltby, J., Hall, S., & Mills, D. S. (2020). A framework for understanding how activities associated with dog ownership relate to human well-being. Scientific Reports, 10(1), 1-12.

Santos de Assis, L., Matos, R., Pike, T. W., Burman, O. H., & Mills, D. S. (2020). Developing diagnostic frameworks in veterinary behavioural medicine: disambiguating separation related problems in dogs. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 6, 499.

Chen, L, Fakiola, Mi, Staines, K, Butter, C and Kaufman, J (2018) Functional Alleles of Chicken BG Genes, Members of the Butyrophilin Gene Family, in Peripheral T Cells. Frontiers in Immunology, 9 . p. 930.

Romero, T, Konno, A, Nagasawa, M and Hasega, T (2019) Oxytocin modulates responses to inequity in dogs. Physiology and Behavior, 201 . pp. 104-110.

Santacà, M., Miletto Petrazzini, M. E., Agrillo, C., & Wilkinson, A. (2019). Can reptiles perceive visual illusions? Delboeuf illusion in red-footed tortoise (Chelonoidis carbonaria) and bearded dragon (Pogona vitticeps). Journal of Comparative Psychology.

Chielo L., Pike T. and Cooper J.J. (2016) Ranging behaviour of commercial free-range laying hens. Animals 2016, 6(5), 28.

McGrath, N., Dunlop, R., Dwyer, C., Burman, O., & Phillips, C. (2017). Hens vary their vocal repertoire and structure when anticipating different types of reward. Animal Behaviour, 130, 79-96.

Soldati, F., Burman, O., John, L., Pike, T., & Wilkinson, A (2017) Long-term memory of relative reward values. Biology Letters, 13 (2). ISSN: 1744-9561

Webb, C.E., Romero, T., Franks, B. and de Waal, F.B., 2017. Long-term consistency in chimpanzee consolation behaviour reflects empathetic personalities. Nature communications, 8(1), p.292.

Rogers, L.J., Frasnelli, E. and Versace, E., 2016. Lateralized antennal control of aggression and sex differences in red mason bees, Osmia bicornis. Scientific reports, 6, p.29411.

Clegg, S.R., Carter, S.D., Birtles, R.J., Brown, J.M., Hart, C.A. and Evans, N.J., 2016. Multi locus sequence typing of pathogenic treponemes isolated from cloven hoofed animals and their comparison to human isolates. Applied and environmental microbiology, pp.AEM-00025.

Postgraduate Research

We welcome applications at any time from prospective MSc by Research (MScRes), MPhil or PhD students wishing to join our thriving postgraduate research community. Funded positions will be advertised as they arise via University of Lincoln Job Opportunities. In addition, we do consider applications for post graduate studies in areas relevant to our core interests by excellent applicants able to fund themselves or supported by their employer.

For further information on the range of research topics available, please see the individual staff pages and contact potential supervisors directly.

Current postgraduate research students:

Ana Maria Barcelos - A framework for understanding the impact of dog ownership on owner well-being

Jackie Braggs – Scratching behaviour in cats, Professor Daniel Mills, Dr Elisa Frasnelli

Lucy China – Evaluation of electronic collars on the trainability of and welfare of dogs, Dr Jonathan Cooper, Prof Daniel Mills

Annika Huber – Assessment of emotional state in dogs (Dual award with University of Bern), Professor Daniel Mills

Greta Kerulo -  Standards in Animal Assisted Interventions, Dr Niko Kargas, Prof Daniel Mills

Himara van HaevermaetApplying biological models to dog reactive dogs, Dr Carl Soulsbury, Prof Daniel Mills

Kevin McPeake -  Frustration in dogs, Professor Daniel Mills, Dr Helen Zulch

Claire Ricci-BonotSocial buffering in horses. Prof Daniel Mills, Dr Teresa Romero, Prof Christine Nicol

Tim Simon – Lateralised behaviour and emotionality in dogs, Prof Daniel Mills, Prof Anna Wilkinson, Dr Elisa Frasnelli, Prof Kun Guo

Rebecca SumnerDeveloping automated methods to train working dogs, Prof Anna Wilkinson, Dr Tom Pike

Maria DimitriouUnderstanding the evolution of cognition using parrots as a model group. Prof Anna Wilkinson, Dr Tom Pike, Dr Carl Soulsbury

Gokulan NagabaskaranThe impact of enrichment on cognition in reptiles, Prof Anna Wilkinson, Prof Oliver Burman

Chloe WrightPrimate Social Cognition, Dr Teresa Romero

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College of Health and Science, University of Lincoln, Brayford Pool Campus, Lincoln, LN6 7TS