A renowned British livestock scientist, who started her working life as a shepherdess, has received a prestigious award from the European Federation of Animal Science.
Dr Joanne Conington is the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award in recognition of her career and service to the livestock sector.
She is known for helping to develop novel breeding programmes for the sustainable genetic improvement of sheep and goats in practice.
After gaining her undergraduate degree in Agriculture and Food Marketing, she worked as shepherdess in Scotland for two years to gain more practical experience.
Her combined interests in livestock and international development led her to Bolivia where she worked as a livestock specialist with an NGO alongside smallholder farmers in the Andean plains.
When she returned to the UK, she completed an MSc in Livestock Production Science and then worked as a sheep specialist for the Meat and Livestock Commission, providing advice to farmers.
In 1992, she took up a post as a Livestock Geneticist at the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) – now SRUC, leading on the development of breeding programmes for sheep.
Nearly three decades later - having completed a PhD in Animal Breeding while raising three young boys and being made a Reader in Applied Livestock Genetics - she is Head of the Department of Agriculture, Horticulture and Engineering Sciences at SRUC.
If Covid-19 restrictions allow, she will receive the award at the annual meeting of the EAAP in Davos, Switzerland, in September.
“I am deeply honoured. To be recognised by my peers in academia and industry is the icing on the cake. It’s amazing," she said.
Isabel Casasús, EAAP President, added: “Jo has made remarkable contributions in the field of genetic and genomics of sheep efficiency, with special emphasis on ewe longevity and the survival of the offspring.
"Her service to EAAP, particularly in the Sheep and Goat Scientific Commission, has been very valuable to our community.”