Who We Are & What We Do

The research and educational activities of the Animal Welfare, Environment, and Sustainability Laboratory (AWES Lab) at the University of Illinois focus 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 activities can be summarized in four main areas:

  • Smart Research Tools
  • Smart Sensors
  • Smart Controllers
  • Smart Animal Management

We take a systematic approach when assessing animal housing, with an understanding that husbandry decisions are multi-faceted, and simultaneously involve the animals, the people, and the facility. Our goal with husbandry recommendations is to optimize decision-making to maximize improvements while minimizing detriments.