Cum laude PhD degree awarded to Allyson Ipema

January 18, 2023

On the 13th of January Allyson Ipema from the Adaptation Physiology group successfully defended her PhD thesis entitled “Fly in the coop – How black soldier fly larvae improve broiler and pig welfare”.

For four years Allyson studied different ways to provide these larvae to broilers and pigs, with the aim of encouraging foraging behaviour and improving livestock health and emotional state. During this process she was supervised by her promotor Liesbeth Bolhuis (Adaptation Physiology group) and co-promotors Walter Gerrits (Animal Nutrition group) and Eddie Bokkers (Animal Production Systems group). Allyson found that especially live larvae provided in a way that requires time and effort to obtain them caused widespread welfare benefits. Broilers performed more foraging behaviour and became more active, and in some cases, they had fewer leg health problems and were less fearful than controls that did not get larvae. Pigs showed more foraging and less damaging behaviour when live larvae were provided in transparent tubes that needed to be turned around by rooting to get the larvae out.

Cooperating with colleague Alejandro Parodi (Animal Production Systems group) she concluded her PhD project with a paper outlining an advice on the responsible use of farmed insects as livestock feed published in Nature Food.

During the defence opponents Dr Piter Bijma (WUR), Prof. Dr Anna Valros (University of Helsinki), Dr Carlos Hernandez (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences), and Dr Birte Nielsen (Universities Federation for Animal Welfare) asked various probing questions. This resulted in an interesting discussion on topics including how to measure animal emotions, ethical considerations of insect welfare, and the future of edible insects. In the end, the thesis committee decided to award Allyson the degree of Doctor with a Cum laude designation, due to the excellent defence and the exceptional quality of her thesis, which included 7 papers in renowned scientific journals.

Opponents PhD defence Allyson Ipema
Opponents PhD defence Allyson Ipema