October 21st – University of Pennsylvania
I was invited to speak to the Lab Animal Club at the University of Pennsylvania, where I’d get the chance to interact with students working towards their qualificatioins in veterinary medicine. Veterinary medicine is one of the core areas where the world of animal research and the world of animal welfare come together (Many vets go into lab animal medicine where they are responsible for the welfare of research animals).
The talk was attended by around 30 students who listened attentively before asking various questions at the end. A number of students then stayed around afterwards to discuss the issue of lab animal medicine further – asking questions about differences in UK and US regulation as we debated the costs and benefits of tighter animal welfare regulation. Many of these students signed up to get involved before I was forced to leave to catch a plane to my next destination.
October 22nd – Penn State
I gave two separate talks at Penn State, each to an audience of around fifty individuals. The first was well attended by scientists and faculty whereas the second was predominantly students (graduates amd undergraduates). This second group brought about the most interesting questions as I was asked about the infamous 92% statistic and various questions about the nature of alternative methods.
After the talk a number of students hung around to ask various questions about the philosophy of animal research, as well as past video footage taken by undercover activists and various pseudoscience myths.
It was great talking with those who are less sure about the benefits of research – trying to ensure that such individuals at least keep an open mind about the issue.
October 23rd – Rutgers University
The New Jersey Association for Biomedical Research (NJABR) invited me to speak to a collection of students at their stem cell research laboratory. I was fortunate to look around the laboratory and was impressed by the openness among the staff there who were working together to understand and treat spinal cord injuries. The talk itself was a success and afterward there was a discussion on the students’ perception of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals); according to the students PETA were seen as somewhat of a joke.