Joy A. Mench, Ph.D.

Photograph of Joy Mench

Position Title
Professor Emeritus



Joy Mench received her doctorate in animal behavior from the University of Sussex in England in 1982. She was a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell University from 1982-1985 and a faculty member in the Poultry Science Department at the University of Maryland in College Park from 1985-1995. She then moved to UC Davis, where she was appointed Professor in the Departments of Avian Sciences and Animal Science and Director of the Center for Animal Welfare.

Professor Mench was strongly committed to providing public, professional and university service during her career. Via her memberships on committees, boards, and advisory panels she consulted on animal welfare for numerous food system stakeholders including retailers, distributors, certification bodies, non-profits, and trade organizations.  She also served in various administrative capacities at UC Davis, including as chair of the Animal Behavior Graduate Group, faculty advisor to the Vice Chancellors for Research and Administration, and Vice Chair of the Department of Animal Science.

Professor Mench retired in 2016 but continues to be active as a consultant on animal welfare issues, as an author of scholarly books and articles, and in teaching and mentoring students. In her free time, she pursues her other interests - traveling the world, snorkeling in tropical waters, reading fiction, and enjoying the company of her friends.


  • B.S., Biology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California, 1976
  • D.Phil., Ethology and Neurobiology, University of Sussex, Falmer, Sussex, England, 1983

Career Honors

  • President, International Society for Applied Ethology, 1999-2001
  • Appointed to Council on Accreditation, Association for the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care, 2002-2009
  • Poultry Welfare Research Award, Poultry Science Association, 2004
  • University of California, Davis, Distinguished Scholarly Public Service Award, 2007
  • Elected Fellow of the Poultry Science Association, 2016
  • Elected Fellow of the International Society for Applied Ethology, 2018
  • American Humane “Humane Hero” Award, 2018
  • Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW) Medalist, 2021

Research Interests

Dr. Mench’s research broadly focused on studying animal behavior in the context of improving the welfare of animals kept on farms, as companions, and in research laboratories and zoos.  Most of her research was with poultry, examining topics such as handling and transport, management practices like lighting, and the welfare aspects and overall sustainability of conventional and alternative housing systems for egg-laying hens and meat chickens.  She also conducted research evaluating the causes of, and methods for reducing, abnormal behaviors in managed and captive animals, for example feather picking by companion parrots and repetitive movements (stereotypies) by zoo-housed elephants.  

Courses Taught

  • Animal Welfare (ANS 103)
  • Ethics of Animal Use (ANS 170)
  • Ethics and Professionalism in Animal Biology (ANB 401)

Graduate Groups

Animal Biology


A list of Dr. Mench’s publications can be found on her Research Gate site -